1Title: What's in a Name

Rating/Warnings: swearing, descriptions of child abuse

Disclaimers: I own nothing in relation to the O.C.

Summary: Not the most original story, but this is my version of what went on in Ryan's mind before he called Sandy after his mother threw him out

What's in a Name

Ryan stood on the streets of Chino dejected and completely alone. His last chance at a place to spend the night had responded with a mere "Why don't you try Eddie?" He had tried Eddie, and Nick, and Tauras, and Matt, and everyone else he could think, all to no avail. Not one person could even let him crash on their couch for one lousy night. He was positive he would only have to lay low just this one evening. Sure, his mom was mad, but she was drunk, and she would get over it. The kicking him out part at least, not the being drunk; he couldn't even remember the last time he saw his mother completely sober. He didn't worry about A.J. too much either. A.J., like all her other boyfriends, was not a permanent fixture in the house. Sooner or later he would figure out that freeloading off his mom wasn't worth all the crap he had to put up with, and then thankfully, he would leave. But that knowledge didn't help right now. Right now, he needed a place to stay and the abandoned car in the back alley was looking better by the minute.

I'm going to give you my card. My home number, you know, if you need something, if things get to be too much, call me.

The words of his lawyer came back to him. He couldn't have meant it. Offering to help and letting some kid you met in Juvie stay at your house were two entirely different matters. Although, at the time, he actually sounded like he cared. Ryan shook his head. A.J.'s latest blows must have knocked something loose in his brain. No one hadcared before. Why should they start now? But still, what did he have to lose? He pulled the dog-eared card from his back pocket and stared at the name…Sandy Cohen.

Ryan scoffed. What kind of a name was that, anyway? It sounded like a girl's name. He tried remembering back to that musical he done when he was still in middle school. Grease, that was it. Hewas Kenickie to Theresa's Rizzo. For moment, he smiled, remembering how they didn't mind rehearsing the make-out scenes. But the main chick in the play, the goody-two-shoes blonde, her name had definitely been Sandy. Yep, the guy had a girl's name.

Ryan thought back to what he looked like. It was obvious the guy had a nice cushy office job. He probably had never done a day's worth of manual labor in his life. Ryan had learned at an early age how to size a man up; with his mom's taste in men, it was an essential trait. You needed to be able to tell the strength of the guy pretty quickly. That way, when the first blow came, you could be somewhat prepared. Lawyer dude didn't look like much. If his mom had brought home guys like that, instead of her usual ones, maybe he wouldn't have seen the inside of the emergency room quite so many times. Sandy...the name probably fit him.

Larry had been his father's name. He had gone to prison when Ryan was fairly young, so he didn't remember much about him. If he tried really hard, he could bring up a few memories, all of them bad. They were filled with screaming, and crying, and his father's face looming over him, belt in hand.

His mom's first boyfriend after Dad went to prison was Bob. He was a handy guy to have around. He could fix just about anything-cars, appliances, you name it. Unfortunately, he had been real good at breaking things too. Ryan's nose and Trey's arm were testament to that fact. In his shop in the garage he had even made his very own "beating stick", for when the boys' attitudes needed adjusting.

Then there had been Joe. Ryan had made the mistake of letting Joe know that he was afraid of heights. Whenever he got on Joe's nerves, he would take the ladder out of the garage and carry him up to the roof of the house. Ryan would spend all night up there too scared to fall asleep. It wouldn't have done any good to cry out for help. Say what you would about Chino, but your neighbors knew how to mind their own business.

Mike number one liked to lock you in the closet. He would keep you in there in the dark for hours telling you exactly what he was going to do with you when he decided to let you out. He always made good on his threats. Ryan was never afraid of the dark, thanks to Mike number one; the dark was always better than what awaited you.

Mike number two was the worse. He would drag Ryan into the bedroom, tie him to the bed and beat him with a wet towel or his belt depending on his mood. It had been five years since he left. Ryan had heard that he had been killed in a prison fight, but it was still his face above all the others that would cause him to wake up in a cold sweat.

Bubba had boots–big steel toed boots. Ryan didn't think Bubba had ever played soccer in his life; he sure knew how to kick. Trey always swore that he still had a hitch in his breath because of those boots. At least that's the excuse he gave when he couldn't outrun the cops.

Chuck was probably the most generous of his mom's boyfriends. He let you choose what he was going to hit you with. Sometimes, you got a choice of three of four different things. Chuck was all heart.

Mitch made Ryan the most nervous. All the others' punishment came quickly. You knew you were in trouble right away with them. But not with Mitch. He liked to make you wait; that way you were never prepared. You could make a wise ass comment in the evening, and the next morning you would be minding your own business when…WHAM! You got smacked so hard you fell of the chair, Mitch would be there telling you to watch your mouth. He liked to keep you guessing.

At first, Brian seemed like he would be the first nice guy his mom ever dated. Ryan didn't think with a name like Brian, he would be the type of guy who would get his jollies beating on kids. Ryan was right; he never laid a hand on him. But constantly being told that you were lazy, unwanted, stupid, and worthless had left just as many scars.

There had been many other men come in and out of his mom's life and his, in his short life. By the time A.J. came along, getting the crap knocked out of you was normal. He was consistent if unimaginative in his abuse.

He ran his finger over the name again...Sandy Cohen. Ryan decided against all reason to put his trust into this man with the girly name. He picked up the phone and dialed the number, hoping that he would be a better man than all of those who had come before him.

The End