The Long Way Home
Summary: The car ride post their second 'date'! Seth and Kirsten episode 3.19 talking about Kirsten's alcoholism, Seth, Ryan, Sandy and Kandy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the O.C. I am merely borrowing the characters and seeing as Josh has restored my faith in him somewhat I might just return them this time!
The writers really came up trumps with the Seth-Kirsten interaction this week but I'm still not quite satisfied lol! Where was Ryan? OK I know where Ryan was…in the poolhouse getting it on with Sadie and that's fine – she makes him happy. But I just need some deeper Kirsten-Ryan interaction. There's an untapped resource of fabby storylines there, I just want the issues re Kirsten's alcoholism and Ryan to be addressed. Is that too much to ask?
I shouldn't be writing this but hey…I'm celebrating my last day of real holiday – for the next 3 weeks sleeping and writing time must be shared with the dreaded revision!
'You're very quiet Seth,' Kirsten observed, taking her hand off the wheel for a moment to squeeze her son's hand. 'Thanks for staying tonight; I'm sorry I hijacked your date with a sneak attack AA meeting.'
'It's okay…thanks for taking me.'
'I'm proud of you,' she said, concentrating back on the road.
Seth looked out of the window and bit his lip. 'I'm proud of you too,' he said quietly, 'Thanks for…thanks for…getting better.'
She could hear the tremor in her son's voice and it made her eyes swim with tears. 'I'm sorry I put you through it all…'
'Mom, you've apologised enough,' he insisted, turning to face her, pretending he didn't see her hastily brushing away tears.
'I meant what I said tonight. You're the reason I got sober; you, Ryan and your Dad.'
Seth shifted in his seat, wanting, but not sure whether to ask the question that had been bothering him all evening.
'Mom?' he said at last.
'Did...has…have…you taken anyone to your meetings before?'
'But…what about Ryan? I mean, you took me, why not him?'
Kirsten could sense the slightest note of accusation in his tone and sighed. 'I know Seth, I know. It's just…complicated.'
'It might not be. Maybe you should talk to him about it…oh yeah sorry, it's you and Ryan. The pair of you don't talk!'
'Yes mom, your in depth conversation about the advantages of "no bits" orange juice was a really good bonding session.'
'We talk about more than that.'
'Oh of course; your sage girl advice the other night.'
'Seth Ezekiel were you eavesdropping?'
'Ahem…I simply overheard.'
Kirsten smiled and raised her eyebrows momentarily but Seth noticed how the sad expression slipped back into place as she looked away from him. He drummed on the window pane, wanting to ask more, ask more about why she'd taken him and not Ryan but not sure how to bring it up.
'What do you do with your chips?'
'The chips, like you got tonight.'
'Oh.' Kirsten didn't answer immediately, indicating to the left rather than the right at the intersection.
'Uh…Mom?' Seth queried. 'I think you missed the turning.'
'I know. Let's go the long way home; I think we need to talk some more.'
Seth nodded, watching the view from the coast road as he waited for his mother to speak.
'I…uh…take the chips to your Grandma's grave. Maybe it's stupid but it's just something I felt like doing.'
'It's not stupid.'
'I wanted to give them to you boys but…I didn't want to have to explain about the meetings and also, it's kinda like a promise and right now I don't think I can make promises to anyone but myself.'
'You're scared you might relapse?'
'Yes and no. I'm sorry Seth. I'm trying. I don't want to drink again I just can't make any guarantees.'
'I also wasn't sure if I should remind you of it all. Last summer was hard enough and the things I said…I doubt anyone needs a physical reminder of my alcoholism, certainly not Ryan. God Seth, this wasn't meant to happen to him again.' Her voice cracked and Seth tentatively reached out to put a comforting hand on his mother's shoulder. She took several deep, shaking breaths.
'I'm so sorry. I shouldn't be telling you all this, not like this. It'll worrying you when really I'm doing fine, just insecure, that's all.'
Just in need of Sandy, she thought to herself. That's all.
'You know, I think Ryan's forgiven you, for what you said…'
'I wouldn't be so sure Seth. He might have forgiven the words because when I said them I was drunk, hurt and lashing out, but I doubt he's forgiven me. I don't blame him; I haven't forgiven myself either.'
'That's why you have to make him a part of this.'
'Seth! I want to, but it's hard for me. Think about it; it took me nine months to bring you.'
'I…uh…figured it would be easiest in the long run.'
Seth frowned and she sighed. 'Look, to be honest, the reason I haven't taken Ryan is…is that…I-I, I hate the comparison with his mother. Okay? That's the truth. I know it's not very nice of me but there it is. I don't want to be compared with Dawn, I don't want to remind him that another mother has failed him.'
She was gripping the steering wheel so tightly it made Seth a little worried.
'Mom? Are you alright?'
'I don't think he compares you…'
'It's inevitable Seth. We're both blonde, we're both alcoholics, we both let him get hurt, we've both hurled abuse at him and we both left him.'
'But you came back.'
He didn't think he'd heard his mother sound so bitter. She had seemed happy and positive since she'd come back from Suriak and if he was honest he often forgot that there were still issues. He wasn't likely to ever forget her face as his dad had driven her away or the empty feel of the house that long summer but, although he had tried to be less self-absorbed recently, Seth had to admit he hadn't really thought about how she was coping being home. The meeting and this car ride had certainly been a wake-up call.
It was a couple of minutes later that he spoke again.
'So what about Dad?'
'What about him?'
'He hasn't gone to AA with you?'
'Have you asked?'
'Your dad's been busy Seth.'
Seth knew that voice, that smile. It was false. She obviously had asked and his father had refused. Something wasn't right.
'Too busy for even that? Too busy for your date, too busy to get home for dinner, fine. But this is different…this is big…'
'Seth…Sandy was dealing with me…with my problems a long time before the intervention. You can't blame him for wanting it all to be over.'
'But it's never gonna really be over is it?' Seth questioned pointedly.
'No-o, I'm always going to be an alcoholic.'
'And dad's not dealing with that. Last summer he sent you away so he wouldn't have to deal with it and now...'
'Hey! He did the right thing. He tried to do it alone but the problem was mine.'
'I know it's hard to understand sweetie, but I guess your dad just hoped that rehab would fix everything; me, our marriage...'
Kirsten swallowed and Seth jumped in, 'Are you guys still fighting? I know last year…'
'Last year was a mess but things are better, a lot better.'
'Except when he bails on your date.'
'I think I found a pretty handsome replacement.'
But Seth wasn't going to be distracted by the flattery, 'So you and dad…still hitting speed bumps?'
'Just something dad said last year.'
'More like brick walls,' Kirsten muttered to herself before catching sight of Seth's concerned face. 'Nothing sweetie…we're fine.' She hesitated. 'Does…does your dad seem, uh, different to you these days?'
Her son crinkled his trademark Cohen eyebrows together, 'Um…I dunno, besides the strange role reversal of you and dad, meaning that he's the one dashing out of the house every morning to the Newport Group?'
'You've noticed huh?'
'Well yeah, but apart from that he's still Dad; over exuberant eyebrows, drinks coffee, over shares about your romantic life…'
'What did he say now?'
'That you were a firecracker in college.'
Kirsten smiled. 'He said that?'
'Yeah, that I could handle, it was the words 'mail truck' and 'rockin' in the same sentence that I couldn't', especially as I was trying to eat at the time.'
'If the mail truck's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin',' she quoted with a hollow laugh.
'You will be careful at college won't you,' she said suddenly.
'More careful than you, you mean?'
Kirsten stuck her tongue out as she pulled into the drive, sighing as she noticed Sandy's car was still absent. Seth heard her, saw the empty space and put two and two together. 'You wanna…come in for some coffee?' he joked.
I am a bad girl writing this random thing when I have so many other things to do so I hope you appreciate this! Please review.