Drabble to Brandywine421's Picture Challenge. All characters of the O.C.™ are courtesy of Fox™

Not beta'ed, so all mistakes are mine - feel free to use them or print them and put them up on your wall.

A thought. Just a quick flash in his mind, a flickering of his subconscious was all it took to have him bolt upright in bed, trying to catch the last images of the dream that had sent a shiver down his tired body. Releasing his breath he wasn't aware of holding Ryan turned his head and observed his peacefully sleeping wife, a soft expression spreading over his face at the love he felt in his heart for his spouse.

Quietly pushing away the comforter and leaving the double bed, careful not to wake her up from the well earned sleep, Ryan tip-toed out of the massive bedroom, tapping through the dark hall to reach the guest toilet in an attempt to keep all noise and disturbances away from the people sleeping in his house.

Cursing under his breath when his toe connected with the commode Kirsten and Sandy had given them on their wedding day he limped on, his hand searching for the light switch in the lately re-decorated toilet.

Sighing with relief when finally the dim light of the neon lamp brightened up the room Ryan gripped the sink with both hands, for a few seconds inspecting his imagine in the mirror. His eyes looked tired with the dark bags underneath, his hair messed up from the two hours of sleep he managed to get before this disturbing dream had left him with a dry mouth and a sick feeling in his stomach.

His breathing was going fast, panic like. Opening the faucet Ryan watched the water run down the drain before he reached out, feeling the liquid flow over his warm hands, hoping to find the refreshing cooling he was craving for. Finally he bent down and splashed some water over his face before turning off the aqua flow and reaching for the green towel next to the sink, drying his face.

Quickly searching his brain for any improvement he realised that the sick feeling in his stomach was still present and although the water had been refreshing, his mind had not been calmed down from the anxiety he could still feel simmering in his heart.

Slightly shaking his head Ryan left the bathroom and walked down the stairs to the kitchen where he opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of orange juice. Downing the contents with a few long swallows he gasped for air when the bottle was empty before throwing it through the kitchen with one well aimed shot and watching it land in the garbage can next to the porch door. Cringing at the sound of the bottle connecting with the plastic trash can a breathless "fuck" escaped his lips before he listened intently, trying to hear whether the banging sound had caused someone to wake up.

When nothing could be heard he once again sighed and turned around to leave the kitchen when a soft whimper echoed through the silent house.

Glad for the light of the full moon which was shining through the windows Ryan climbed up the stairs, trying to ignore the feeling of angst which was still nagging on him, increasing at the sounds escaping from the room next to the master bedroom.

Slowly and quietly opening the door to the nursery he tip-toed over to the crib, pushing away the pareo which was placed over the frame before carefully peaking inside. The sight of the blonde baby girl, whimpering quietly and extending her small arms towards him let his heart feel the sought relief and his breathing steadied, a soft smile appearing on his lips.

Lifting up the tiny baby Ryan hugged his daughter close, carrying her over to the armchair in the corner where he arranged the pillows before he slowly sat down.

Adjusting the girl carefully in his arm he reached for the soother and lightly touched the baby's lips with it, patiently waiting until she sucked it in with a content sigh.

Watching his little girl closing her eyes, her breathing becoming rhythmic, Ryan knew that she had fallen asleep in his strong arms, relieved with the thought that she was safe and protected.

Brushing over her soft, thin hair Ryan was once again fascinated at the beauty of his daughter. Her blue eyes like a mirror of his own, her tiny nose resembling the nose of her beautiful mother, his wife's facial features doubled in the looks of their daughter.

Placing his hand tenderly on the chest of the baby Ryan could feel the girl's heartbeats. Counting them for a while he smiled at the thought of Seth who would tease him to no end with this habit he had developed around his first born.

Closing his eyes, enjoying the sensation of his baby girl in his arms Ryan felt the love for this tiny bundle float through his body, putting his mind at ease and releasing the tension which had been gripping his body upon the visions his subconscious had produced.

Knowing his daughter was safe and asleep Ryan doze off, images of his wife and his daughter replacing the nightmares of his previous dream.

A/N: Feedback, anyone?