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Here comes a new story from me. First I would like to thank famous99 and Joey51 for beta reading. Without them this wouldn't have been possible. Thank you so very much, you have no idea how great you guys are :) swenglish

Disclaimer: I don't own anything OC related.

References: A little from "The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn't", but mostly my own stuff. Oh and some previous episodes is refered to here and there..nothing big.

And now on to the story...

Merry X-mas Ryan Atwood - Chapter 1

The library was filled with activity, as students studied for final exams and finished up papers that were due the next day, the day before the holidays. Christmas was just around the corner and unlike all other years, Ryan was actually looking forward to this season. He would be able to spend it with a family that cared about him and share it with friends. They would eat delicious food and share presents with each other, then afterwards, enjoy almost two weeks of vacation, which meant that he would be able to take it easy and rest. He planned on sleeping in late since right now he was so tired that he was having a hard time holding his head up.

He and Lindsay had been putting final touches on the physic assignment all of the previous week, and it hadn't been easy since there were a lot of other subjects that he also had to study for with exams right around the corner. Seth had exclaimed that Ryan was starting to take this nerdiness too far, always hanging with his head in a school book.

Yet he didn't care!

What did Seth Cohen know about life? He, who had everything set and the day he wanted to get a job he could work at any firm he wanted. Being wealthy and powerful had its advantages and that was something Ryan had found out the hard way when he had worked as a construction worker. Since he didn't come from a wealthy family, he knew that the only way he could make it in the world was if he applied himself and used his brain to its fullest potential, which his teacher told him would be one of his assets in life.

He'd come to realize that living in Chino was not what he wanted out of life, that was for sure, and that also meant that he had to put a lot more effort into school than he had previously done. Normally physics never proved to be a problem, but today he didn't seem to grip the situation at all.

Luckily for him Lindsay, the girl who he'd spent last Saturday night with, freezing at the bus stop, seemed to, have a good handle on things. She was writing down answers and correcting what they had written down, completely absorbed in her work. Secretly, Ryan wondered if she had ever had a life – or if she'd ever been out partying, had a boyfriend. All she ever talked about was school and how she would make something out of herself some day – how she would be reckoned and successful. At first Ryan had thought that she was really shallow, but as he started to talk to her, he really started to like her and now, just one week later, she was considered his girlfriend. Or at least the girl he was dating for the moment.

Biting on the tip of his pencil, Ryan did his best to take a stab at the task in front of him especially since the study hall hour would be soon over and he had to get back to class again. He couldn't wait for this day to end since an ugly headache was constantly luring in the back of his head and his eyes stung badly from being much too tired. Hiding a yawn behind the back of his hand, he decided that a break was what he needed as well as a breath of fresh air. It was much too stuffy in the room and standing up, he noticed that his joints were all stiff from sitting down for so long. He was doing his best to work out the kinks in his back when Lindsay looked up at him.

"You going somewhere?"

Forcing a smile on his face, Ryan mumbled, "Just need a breath of fresh air. I'm gonna go outside for a while. You wanna come with me?"

She looked at him for a moment, like she was deciding whether or not he really wanted her to come along, then her face lit up in a big smile. "Let's go down to the cafeteria and get a cup of coffee and a bagel. I didn't eat much during lunch and I know you didn't either."

Ryan groaned inwardly. That was true. He hadn't eaten much, but he assumed that it was because he was nervous for exams, besides he still felt full from breakfast and another cup of coffee was not what he nor his stomach needed right now. A bit of fresh air would have suited much better. Lindsay obviously thought otherwise, and before he knew what hit him, she had grabbed him by his arm and was guiding him toward the cafeteria.

This whole "dating -a-new-girlfriend-thing" was a new situation for Ryan, and the girls he'd been dating in the past, besides Theresa and Marissa, hadn't been long time girlfriends and often they were just girls he'd sleep with. When he'd mentioned this to Seth, the poor guy had nearly choked on his cereal, but that was how it was and Ryan wasn't exactly proud of his past. In Newport, Marissa was the only girl he could call a girlfriend. No one else had touched his heart in the same way that was until Lindsay turned up on the scene.

"And then I told him that you have to put a dot there or else it would look really stupid and we would totally flunk test, but did he listen? No, he…."

Lindsay was rambling on about a test-gone-wrong but to tell the truth, Ryan wasn't exactly listening to what she was saying. Instead, he concentrated hard on holding his eyes open and desperately hoped that the Cup of coffee he held in his hands would do the trick. Lindsay, however talked about anything and everything, in the same way that Seth used to do, while Ryan quietly listened – or pretended to do so. It was a rather harmless game and so far neither Seth, nor Lindsay, had caught him and for now he felt comfortable enough to go on.

Listening to her talk about how she managed to get a teacher to change his verdict on a paper that she'd handed in, because someone else had made a mistake could be charming. But not on a day when he felt like his skull was ready to blow to pieces.

"Ryan! Have you been listening to a word I've said?" There was accusation in her voice.

Upon recognising her annoyance, he quickly responded, "Sure I have." Smiling back, a bit apologetically, he went on. "Sorry, I didn't get to bed until way past midnight and I'm totally beat today."

The look in her eyes told him that she didn't believe him. "You sure that's all there is? I'm not boring you am I?" Before Ryan had a chance to give an answer, Lindsay answered it herself. "Yes I am. I'm so boring." As if the truth had just struck her, she covered her face with her hands. "Oh God, here I'm talking about myself again. How embarrassing!"

Feeling that this was another awkward situation, like most other situations he'd been involved in with Lindsay, he said with a reassuring tone, "Don't beat yourself up over it." He placed his arms around her shoulders in an protective hug. "It's not you. Like I've said before, I'm a bit tired right now. That's all. It's not your fault." To his relief, she looked up at him and he took the opportunity to tell her a little white lie.

"It's actually pretty interesting plus I'm sure it will help us while doing the paper." 'Please, don't let me have said too much,' he begged, but one look from Lindsay told him that he had.

"No, it won't, and obviously you don't think so either."

At that very moment, Ryan just felt like getting up and leaving. What was it with him and girls who always complicated stuff?

"Lindsay, I would love to listen, it's just that we have to finish this paper or we will flunk." He could have bit his tongue off after saying those words. Her face told him that they had been completely out off line.

"Are you making fun of me?"

"No. No." Ryan was definitely ready to leave. Why was she misinterpreting everything he said? Drawing his breath, he waited for all hell to break loose, like it always did with the girls he dated.

Much to his surprise, she laughed.

"I know, I'm the one being stupid. I'm the one holding you up when we have so many things we have to do." She looked down. "I don't know what's the matter with me today; I'm a bit testy." Once again she answered her own question, "I think it can be Christmas, you know? Holidays make me really nervous, and when I get nervous over something, I talk." She giggled. "You know, Ryan, I'm really nervous about spending Christmas at your house."

Feeling bad for her, Ryan put his arm around her shoulders. "I know it can be tough but this time you don't have to be alone. You've got us." He wiped away a string of hair from her forehead. "You've got me."

He didn't wait for a response, but she gave him a brief kiss on his cheek. "Thank you." Her eyes lit up like the sun.

Lindsay, constantly changing her mind, made Ryan shift uneasily on the sofa. One minute she was nice then she was mad then she became embarrassed only to be mad again and then nice and now cuddly. There seemed to be no limit to the amount of moods she could go through. She was even worse than Summer, and if she hadn't confused him before she sure as hell was doing it now.

Feeling like they had sat down too long Ryan felt restless. Standing up he said, "Listen, I think that we've better get going and finish up that paper, I have a class in less than half an hour and it would be great if we could read through the last part before then."

"Okay. You're right, besides I don't think that there's much left anyway." Smiling, she made a move to take his hand. "Come on, let's get back to work then."

Ryan gently pulled his hand away. "Listen, there's something I've gotta do before I can join up with you."

"Oh." She looked a bit hurt.

"Don't worry, I'll catch up with you." He was already on his way towards the door.

"Okay, I'll go back to the library. Don't take too long," she shouted back at him. He could hear disappointment in her voice.

"I won't. Be right back." Quickly he walked hurried down the corridor. Thing's was happen too fast and he needed desperately to get some space, or else he feared he would choke from all the emotions Lindsay stirred up inside him. She was pushing things too fast. Maybe he was too, and now he was starting to get cold feet.

There was also another pressing matter at stake and with that he set his steps toward the restroom. After tending to his business Ryan went over to the sink and turned on the tap. Looking into the mirror he saw that he had dark bags under his eyes and his pale complexion didn't exactly match the California sun outside. Not that the weather was great today, no, it was actually a bit on the chilly side for this side of the west coast. As he was pulling a piece of paper from the dispenser, a sudden pang of pain shot through his stomach.

"Shit!" Gasping, he grabbed both hands against his stomach , doubling up he sank down on the tiled floor. "Fuck that hurt." He was seeing stars, that was so bad the pain was. Closing his eyes he was doing his best to rid his head of the treacherous dizziness, and for a moment he feared that he would actually pass out.

"You okay, dude?" One of the stall doors opened and a red-haired student with chopped hair and freckles, stuck out his head. His gaze settled on Ryan, folded up on the floor, "What's the matter? You sick or somethin'?"

Swallowing, Ryan blinked hard. The pain had passed somewhat and no longer felt like a glowing hot poke was stabbing him in his stomach and back. "I'm fine," he mumbled through gritted teeth, and why doing his best to stand up another seer of pain struck him.


"Dude, you don't look too good. You want me to get someone? A teacher? The nurse?" The student walked over to him.

"No. No. It's all right. I'm fine." Ryan shook his head frenetically.

"You sure?"

"I told you it's nothing. Just a bit of a stomach ache." The pain had almost disappeared now. "Probably just something I ate. Or maybe it is the flu. No biggie." Shrugging off the helping hand the red-head provided, Ryan did his best to stand up on his own, this time with the help of the sink. It didn't succeed very well and he sank down on the floor again, groaning.

"The flu, man? That sucks. Being Christmas and all."

" Yeah tell me about it, but that's usually my luck; Having a shitty Christmas.." Ryan smiled crookedly, at his own comment.

"Flu can be a bitch, I know," the student laughed at the wise crack, but then said with symphathy in his tone as he could see that Ryan was clearly struggling to sit up. . "You sure you don't want me to get someone then? You need anything?"

"No I'm all right." Ryan shook his head to prove his point.

"Okey." The red-headed kid didn't look too convinced and instead he walked over by the sink, filling up the paper cup with water. "At least take this." He handed the paper cup to Ryan. "You look like you need it. Hell, you're grey in your face."

"Thanks." Gratefully Ryan drowned the water cup. It felt so good the way the cool water ran down his parched throat. It made him feel better and his energy was starting to return too. The stomach ache was practically gone now, as was the dizziness he'd felt.

"That's better. Now you don't look like a freakin' ghost anymore." The kid studied him. "Hey you're that guy from Chino, ain't you? The ones that's staying at the Cohen's place. Seth Cohen's?"

"Mmm. You know him?" This was not someone Ryan had expected Seth to be acquaintance with.

"Sure. Everyone knows Seth Cohen. His family is the richest here in Newport. His grandpa owns everything." As if the student was suddenly reminded off something he said in a hasty tone, "Shit. I gotta get going. Class you know?"

"Okay, and thanks for helping me out." The words were sincere. Ryan had no idea what he would have done if this guy hadn't been here to help him.

"No prob. You sure you can handle it by yourself now?"


"Okay. Take care man. See ya." With that he was off and out of the door.

The moment he was alone, Ryan let out a breath that he hadn't even been aware he'd been holding. Since he felt tons better now he did another attempt to stand and this time it worked out fine. After washing his face he did his best to compose his posture, even if he still felt a bit iffy after that sudden and unexpected attack.

It was so strange.

One moment he was fine, the next he doubled over in pain. The bout had disappeared as quickly as it came and with a gentle touch he felt around his sore stomach. All that was left was a dull ache in his lower back as well as an infinitive feeling in his stomach. But nothing worse that he couldn't handle.

'Maybe it really was something I ate,' Ryan thought as he wiped his face off with the paper towel. ' Or had way too many cups of coffee today...or just maybe my life is finally catching up with me. Making me feel this shitty.' Whatever it was, he was happy that it had dissipated, and after making sure he was as presentable as he could be, Ryan walked back to the study hall again, determined not to tell anyone about this little incident. He was fine now, and that was all that mattered.