Summary: What if Kendall would do anything to keep the people she loves happy, never mind what she might want? What if Zach pushed her away and Ryan was all too happy to give her another chance? What if she would sacrifice what she wants to keep her mother happy and do what she was 'supposed' to do? What if this Ryan and Kendall reunion is just a 'detour' on Kendall's way to Zach? What if, in reality, Ryan and Kendall simply aren't meant to be?

AN: Came up with this about a month ago and just my personal view on how this 'reunion' for Ryan and Kendall might be just a relationship along the lines of Brooke and Tad, Erica and Travis? What if, in the end, Ryan and Kendall really aren't meant to be and, no matter how much Erica and Ryan might wish it so, it won't just happen? I've never went with something like this before so, if you want me to, I can continue it. I'm working on, like, twelve fics but this one wouldn't leave me alone and I'd like to know if anyone would read something with as much R/K interaction that is in here.

Give me your honest thoughts and, please, don't panic, this is a Zen story… it's just not nearly as happy and go lucky as LS… no, really, I mean it…


Night lift up the shades
let in the brilliant light of morning
but steady there now
for I am weak and starving for mercy
sleep has left me alone
to carry the weight of unraveling where we went wrong
it's all I can do to hang on
to keep me from falling
into old familiar shoes

Love has made me a fool
it set me on fire and watched as I floundered
unable to speak
except to cry out and wait for your answer
but you come around in your time
speaking of fabulous places
create an oasis
dries up as soon as you're gone
you leave me here burning
in this desert without you

- Sarah McLachlan, 'Stupid'

Chapter One

She had gone back to him as a broken woman, finally fragile in some way that had left her eyes hollow and her laughter dull and her smiles lifeless, and he had kissed her face and lips as he was putting the ring on her finger and then she was saying her new vows and sitting with the smile plastered on her face while her mother raved about how happy she was about the wedding and how sure she was that everything would work out.

When he told her that he loved her and that he had never meant any of it, not the marriage or any of his words or anything he had ever done since the marriage to hurt her, she smiled and said the same, forgiving him for things that still hurt, that still felt raw inside her, wounds that he refused to acknowledge as anything other than just some mistake she had made.

She cried after they made love, not out of pain but out of some unspeakable emptiness inside her, facing the wall and biting her knuckle, silent tars streaking her face as he slept at her back, content that she was okay with everything and that the only thing she wanted was him, sated in the understanding that, like her mother said, he was the only one who made her happy.

He wanted to give her a wedding, wanted her to be happy and smile the way she had that day in front of the castle, with her face beautiful like it had been, the white dress sheathing her form like perfection, before he had done the things he didn't want to talk about with her, didn't want to admit to because that would mean it was his fault too, wouldn't it?

They had both made mistakes, tore at each other but he couldn't let that be spoken out loud because that would mean that he was had been wrong too and he didn't want to say it, didn't want the truth of his mistakes to be put into words because that would mean that he was a fool too right?

It was easier for him to make it all her fault.

"You look so beautiful Kendall."

Catching her mother's gaze in the mirror, Kendall smiled and it was flat, like everything she did these days was. She was beautiful, yes, but it was tainted by the way she stood in the dress, the white fabric feeling like a heavy wrap, smothering her, tangling her limbs and making it hard to bring air into her lungs.

She let fingers graze the material of her wedding dress, and the sight of it in the mirror, looking so much like the one she had worn that day that she had risked everything was enough to make her stomach lurch in her gut, and the feel of it across her skin made her swallow roughly, squashing emotion down to smile at her mother.

When she stepped off, turning, her mother came forward, undoing the buttons that ran up her back and helping Kendall slip it off, carefully hanging the dress up before letting Kendall put back on her own clothes, the blouse and skirt, and leaving the dressing room, Erica trailing behind, babbling in excitement about the wedding ceremony.

When he spotted her, he stood, passing their son to Bianca and coming forward, flashing a grin at Erica before kissing Kendall, gathering her close and cupping her face, thumb caressing her cheek. When he pulled back, wrapping his arms around her, she beamed at him. "I bet you look beautiful in that dress."

"Beautiful is an understatement," Erica laughed and they chuckled together and, behind Ryan, Bianca looked away, shifting the little boy in her lap and biting her lip as she studied anything other than the small group in front of her, anger lightly skimming her dark eyes and leaving her pretty face emotionless.

Kendall hated that her sister saw as much as she did… it made it hurt all the more.

"You want to go home?" Ryan asked and she glanced back at him, wanting nothing more than to get away from Bianca who looked so angry and seemed to be in such quiet pain for her sister. And she wanted to get away from Erica with everything that she was sure Kendall really wanted, not caring that her daughter was slowly unraveling, slowly crumbling under it all.

"Yes." She nodded hard, and then nodded harder when her mother began voicing protest, insisting that they should all go together to the dinner for the family. "Yes." She pressed closer to the man she was going to marry. "Yes, Ryan… I want to go home, please?"


"Why don't we let them go spend some time alone," Bianca interrupted sharply, and when Erica shot her a look, she seemed startled to see the quiet anger in her younger daughter's gaze, faltering under the surprising fury on the young woman's face. Bouncing Chris very slightly in her lap, Bianca changed tack effortlessly, swiftly going from anger to sweetness as she smiled. "Besides, I'd like for Miranda to have some time with cousin Chris here."

Let Ryan think he had named their son, let him keep his lies, the things that seemed to keep him going. He was named for Bianca, was named for her sister who had been the only one to care since Ryan had told her the truths with his hands and his eyes excited at the chance of beating Zach at his own game.

Didn't Ryan always complain that she was the one who couldn't win without someone else losing?

He had won, he had gotten what he wanted and Zach had lost and he didn't seem to care that Kendall had lost too, because nothing mattered more than the fact that he had won back Kendall, who had actually seemed to think that she didn't need him anymore, who had actually acted like she had moved on… Ryan had won and Zach had lost.

And now, standing in the middle of a group of people and held close to her husband, the man she'd soon be exchanging vows with again so that Erica could get her pictures and so that Ryan could make a different choice when Kendall stood before him in that wedding dress and with her heart open and helpless, getting his chance to fix the mistake he didn't want to admit to making…

Kendall was lost.

Erica was giving the press a ticket to Kendall's ceremony with Ryan Lavery, giving them the right to bring the cameras and questions into Kendall's personal life, like this was her chance to prove to the world how much she loved her dear daughter Kendall despite everything she had said and done to Kendall in the last months.

As much as he hated the pictures, he kept the papers with her face on them, studying them in the middle of the night, when his mind gave in and went back to how easy it had been for her to believe such things. All because of Lavery…

Now, sitting at his desk at the casino, the rest of the building dark and empty, he studied the face that decorated the front page, grainy and gray but still flawless to him. Another sip of her alcohol—he was pretty sure it was Scotch but he couldn't be sure—and he considered the look on her face, the eyes hidden beneath her glasses.

And he told himself, again, that she looked happy.