Disclaimer: I own zip, nada, rien... but many thanks to those who do, for creating such compelling characters. Only borrowing, I swear...

A/N: I love Ryan studying on the bed, but Kirsten said way back at the beginning that they needed to get him a desk. While I'm glad she apparently forgot on the show, she follows through in this little piece, set early in series 1.

Many thanks for reviews – I really appreciate the feedback, and the opportunity to improve.

Summary: Desk. Chair. He didn't need them...didn't want them. But they show up anyway, just like all the other stuff. OK, they were kinda' cool... (An early Season 1 Ryan night in, with a little studying and always the thinking.)

Trading Spaces

Ryan sat alone on his bed, back propped against the headboard, pillows tucked behind him. He far preferred this position to sitting at the new desk and chair which Mrs. Cohen – that is, Kirsten – had bought for him. Well, okay, he hadn't actually sat there, but still. He wasn't exactly up for trading spaces.

When she had asked him to go with her to the furniture store, he had reluctantly agreed. Once there, he tried again to tell her the desk wasn't necessary, that he didn't need one. She had given him her Queen of the Manner glare about the third time he had protested, which expression he still found more than a little intimidating. Not to mention damned effective.

Effective enough that he had immediately stopped protesting, settling instead for steering her towards the least expensive of the options she was considering.

And the chair – the chair was some ergonomically designed thing that he thought belonged in an executive aerospace office somewhere. Not a pool house. When he'd mentioned that a plain folding chair would be just fine, she had rolled her eyes, and sent him off to look for a desk lamp while she continued to talk to the salesman about the assorted pros and cons of each of the chair designs.

Honestly. It was a place to sit your ass. But he hadn't been about to tell her that. Not when she was in Queen Kirsten mode. No way.

He'd selected the color for the chair in the end – she had insisted that he had to do that much. Fine, then. Black. It went with the desk lamp.

The furniture had been delivered today while he was at school, and Kirsten had supervised the unloading and placement. That was only fair, he thought. She was the one who wanted them. Not him. She should get to say where they went.

He looked up from his history book at the new occupants of the room. Okay – so they did look kinda' cool. But that didn't change anything. He still didn't need them.

He liked it here on the king-size bed. It wasn't as structured or as confining here. He surveyed the expanse of mattress – man, it was huge. He liked sitting in the middle of all this space – literally feet on all sides. Liked having it as his personal space.

Imagined the edges as his boundaries...his protective barriers – one set at least. 'Cause there were, in fact, layers of boundaries within boundaries, sort off like an onion's layers. And if he thought about his protective layers, he supposed that an outside boundary might be the Cohen property and house, next came the pool house, then the expanse of this bed.

After that there were the clothes – solid colors, simple, strong -- then the physique – toned, don't mess with me -- and then...well, then it got really personal. In quiet moments, he had to acknowledge that there were a lot of internal layers, each one forming a wall between the outside and what he kept buried. Buried from outside view. Some things buried even more deeply, from conscious thought.

He shook his head, and refocused, suddenly uncomfortable with this direction. He returned instead to the ancient Egyptian history assignment he had been reading, finishing the section on Ramses II. Yeah, much safer to think about ancient history.

Closing the book, he laid it aside, and picked up his math assignment. He had saved it for last, not because he liked it least, but because it was his favorite subject. Well, math and English, actually. Which would probably surprise a lot of people. Maybe not the math part, but certainly the English.

Who would think that he would be into words? But really, words were cool. On paper, or other medium. He loved to read – almost anything. Even Seth's comics, although he had thought that they were pretty lame at first.

But Seth's enthusiasm was contagious, and he was grudgingly coming to appreciate that Legion was not so stupid after all. And, okay, he could enjoy some of the rest of the "graphic novels", too. They weren't Pulitzer prize material, but sometimes he enjoyed not having to think too much. He did more than enough of that on his own.

And he could write – even liked to write sometimes. He could control that – choose what to write. He just didn't like talking so much. Because talking always lead to questions, and questions often led to places he didn't want to go. Someone else talking...okay. Him – not so much. Not happening.

Unless – well, he did kinda' like plays. Not that he'd ever admit that to anyone here...

But seriously, acting wasn't really like talking, because the words were already scripted. You knew what everyone would say – importantly, you knew what you were supposed to say. What they wanted you to say. He liked knowing all the questions and the answers ahead of time.

And besides, in a play it was the character that was exposed to the audience, and the actor was safe inside – invisible. Speaking someone else's words. Too bad more things weren't scripted, if you asked him.

He picked up the Calculus textbook from the far side of the bed, where he had tossed it. As he skimmed through the assignment, he realized that he had a number of equations to work through. Automatically, he pulled his history text back onto his lap to use as a make-shift desk.

As he did so, his eyes skimmed over the real desk, just sitting there. Okay, so he had to get up anyway to get some graph paper – he liked the boxes better than the lined paper for math. He'd sit there just for a second. Just so he could tell her he'd tried it, without having to lie.

He rose and moved across the room to the new desk. Kirsten had thoughtfully stocked the drawers and shelves with school supplies. He sat down in the chair, and spun slightly to access the bottom drawer that held the graph paper.

Hmmm... this chair actually fit his ass pretty good. Sitting up straight, he leaned back, and was impressed at how the lumbar support mechanism fit into the small of his back, and how the chair comfortably supported his upper torso and shoulders.

He rested his arms on the arms of the chair, and pushed away with his feet. The chair slid smoothly away from the desk. Ryan twisted right, and then left, feeling the solid construction and smooth movement. He spun it around, smiling a bit as it turned easily two full revolutions without any effort at all.

Okay. So it's better than a folding chair, he admitted. He flipped on the desk lamp, and moved the chair up under the desk, just trying it out. The desk was wood – warm and solid. The height was perfect.

He pulled open some of the doors and smaller drawers in the top section of the desk, discovering nooks and slots and other assorted spaces he had not noticed before. He raised his eyebrows in approval.

Okay. So maybe it would be – not horrible – to work here. Sometimes. Maybe math – if he had problems where he needed a flat surface. It would make her happy.

He spun back and grabbed his backpack from the floor, searching quickly for his ledger. Where he kept the totals. Not all the small stuff. He couldn't begin to account for all that.

Just the big stuff. Like the tuition for Harbor...he cringed every time he thought of that one. And the clothes – again just the big items. The suits, and the shoes –some of the designer stuff, at least.

In the beginning she had insisted that he had to pick out the things she bought for him – that's when he'd seen the prices. He still shook his head at the thought of $100 for jeans, or $75 for a shirt. Or $150 for shoes, for heaven's sake.

Now, she said she had a pretty good idea about what he liked, so that most of the time new things simply showed up with his stuff. No prices, no fanfare. New shirts or pants hanging in the closet, or folded in his shelves. Or new shoes sitting neatly on the floor.

He found it – his list of debts. God only knew when he'd be able to pay them back, but he'd find a way some day. In the meantime, he'd keep track of what he owed them. Financially, anyway. Some other things, he thought, you can't quantify so easily. Even though they might be more important. But this. This much he could do.

He added two items to his ever-growing list: Desk, $1350; Chair, $480. While of course he'd leave them with the Cohens when he had to move on, they wouldn't have bought them in the first place if it weren't for him being there. They were an expense directly related to him. So, they should go on the list...

He started to return the ledger to the backpack, and then hesitated. He cocked his head, considering. At last, he deposited the document into one of the covered slots in the new desk. He closed the small door firmly, concealing the ledger from view.

Satisfied, he rose, moved to the bed, and picked up his math book. He then returned, spread the textbook on the desk, and sat back down in the Mother-of-All-Chairs, ready to take the new stuff out for a spin. For Kirsten. And okay -- maybe a little bit for him, too.