1Title: A Twist of Fate

Ratings/Warnings: In this chapter-very strong language, abuse, Ryan Angst

Beta: loracj2

Disclaimers: I own nothing in relation to The O.C. All mistakes are mine

Summary: Beginning of Season 1, AU, In The Pilot, Kirsten asks Sandy "What if this is all a scam? What if he's just using you to case the house?" In this story it is the truth, but not by Ryan's choice. For the purposes of this story Dawn is dead and there never was a Trey.

Twist of Fate: Chapter One

Ryan stood outside the walls of the California Juvenile Detention Center. He had just been released after attempting to steal a car. His lawyer, Sandy Cohen, stood next to him while he waited for his ride.

"My office will contact you to remind you the date for your hearing."

"I'll remember."

An old pickup truck flew into the parking lot, jumping the curb as it came to a screeching halt. A very large, very angry looking man climbed out. He grabbed Ryan by the shoulders shaking him as he started shouting.

"What the hell is wrong with you? How could you be so damn stupid? Get your ass in this truck!" He gave the boy a hard shove, causing him to stumble into the truck door. Ryan glanced nervously at Sandy, clearly embarrassed that he had to witness the scene.

Sandy eyed the man with a certain amount of confusion and caution. He was almost certain the kid's file listed his father as still in prison.

"Mr. Atwood?" At the sound of his voice the man shifted his attention to Sandy. It was obvious that he hadn't noticed the other man standing there.

"Fuck, no. I'm Art Sykes, his stepfather, and if there is one thing in this life I'm grateful for is that this worthless little bastard isn't mine. I just got stuck with him after his whore-mother up and died on me. I don't know what I was thinking marrying that bitch."

"Mr. Sykes," Sandy corrected himself and held out his hand. "I'm Sandy Cohen, Ryan's attorney."

He ignored the offer of a handshake. "You better be free, mister. Because you're even stupider than him, if you think I am going to pay one dime to keep him out of prison. He can rot in there for all I care."

Ryan stood leaning against the door frame, head down, and seemingly immune to this verbal onslaught. The only sign that he was even aware of what was going on was to flinch when Art turned his attention back to him.

"You're going to have enough to pay for when I get you back home. Do not make me repeat myself again. I said, get your ass in the truck, now!"

He opened the door and shoved Ryan into the passenger seat. Sandy fumbled in his suit jacket looking for his card and a pen. He scribbled his home number before handing the card to Ryan.

"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 only acknowledgment he gave was to wordlessly take the card. He looked at it for a moment before slowly turning the card over and over, flipping it through his fingers. Sandy jumped back as the truck roared to life. Art shifted gears and went barreling out of the parking lot.

As he watched Ryan drive off with his stepfather, Sandy couldn't shake the feeling that he shouldn't let the boy go with him. However, he saw no other choice; the man was obviously the only relative the kid had who wasn't in jail. Sandy ran his hands through his shaggy dark hair and sighed. Suddenly, it seemed like it had been a very long day. After witnessing a horrific glimpse into the life of a boy his son's age, he wanted nothing more than to go home and spend time with his own family.

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Ryan winced in pain as Art slammed him up against the wall. He held him there, pressing his fist into the boy's chest.

"You stupid, worthless, little piece of shit."

Each insult was emphasized with a stinging slap to the face.

"I give you one little job to do and you manage to screw it up. I've had people scope that car out for a week. The only thing you had to do was hot-wire the damn thing. But, oh no, that was too hard for a dumbass like you. You didn't even have the brains to check and see if there were any cops around."

"I...I'm sorry. I tried," Ryan began stuttering an apology before being cut off by Art's vicious backhand.

"Shut your mouth. I don't want to hear any more excuses out of you. Look at what all I do for you-I clothe you, I feed you, and this is how you repay my generosity. If it wasn't for me, you'd be living on the streets and eating out of garbage cans just to survive. No one else would put up with a good-for-nothing brat like you. Even your own mother decided overdosing on coke was better than taking care of you."

Ryan wiped the blood from his mouth, glaring at Art. He had heard enough. In fact, he had heard these exact same words every day of his life for the past three years, ever since his mother had died. He knew that he was stupid, lazy, worthless, and nothing more than a charity case. He wasn't in the mood to hear it again. Living with Art was no picnic, but Juvie had scared him . . . a lot. Before last night, he had always thought that in addition to Art, heights were his greatest fear. He had been wrong. He had never felt anything like being locked up before-the closeness, the staleness in the air, the sensation of being trapped. Right now, he wanted nothing more than to go outside, away from the confines of the house and Art's insults. He needed to clear his head and try forget about that tiny little prison cell.

He made a move for the door. Art immediately grabbed his arm, pulling him back. "Where the hell do you think you're going? I didn't give you permission to leave."

"I get it, okay? You don't need to keep pounding it in my head. I know that I am nothing but a burden to you, a waste of time and space. Hell, I'm probably a burden to the whole world, because all I do is use up the supply of oxygen. Happy? Can I go now?"

Another slap to the mouth and two sharp blows to his ribs was the answer. He fell to his knees, gasping for air. One arm cradled his throbbing ribs while the other barely managed to hold him up. Art crouched down and grabbed a fist full of hair. Yanking him to his knees, he forced Ryan to look him in the eye.

"How can I ever be happy as long as I'm stuck with you? You're right about one thing though. You are a burden to me. But you know what really gets me? It's the fact that you didn't have to be. I have done so much for you-taught you so much. Thanks to me you can pick a pocket with the best of them. You can slice through a woman's purse straps so smoothly you're five blocks away, before she even knows it's gone. I even gave you the skill of being able to bypass a car alarm and have the motor purring all within five minutes. I did all of this for you, so that you would feel like you are contributing, to give you some self-worth. But you just disappoint me time and time again. You are nothing."

With a final jerk of Ryan's head he released his hair, causing the boy to fall backwards.

Ryan scooted himself into the nearest corner. After three years of living in hell, he knew Art was far from done with him.

"What do you have in your hand?"

Ryan didn't realize he was still holding the business card his lawyer had given him earlier that day. He paused a moment to look at it.

"Damn it, boy. I'm getting really tired of repeating myself." He raised his hand to strike Ryan again.

"No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." He held the card up in his shaking hand, hating the pleading tone of his voice.

Art made a move as if to deliver the blow. Ryan flinched back. "Getting a little jumpy aren't you, boy?" Art said, and laughed as he reached down to take the card.

"Isn't this better? Things go so much more smoothly when you just do what I tell you." Art studied the card carefully. "He said this was his home phone. This is a Newport number. I didn't think lawyers like him made that kind of money."

An evil grin slowly began to form. "Well, well, well . . . what do you know? You might have accidentally done something right for once in your pathetic life. If Mr. Bleeding-Heart wants to help you, I say we let him."

"What are you talking about?" Ryan didn't like the look on Art's face. Ryan began to get a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. A look like that could only mean Art was thinking up another scheme, one that would only bring trouble for him.

"You are going to call this guy, and tell him we got into an argument over you being stupid enough to get arrested. You took off and need a place to stay until things cool down. You make sure that it all sounds like it's your fault and you decided to take off. I don't need social services butting their noses in around here. Once you get to his place, you start paying really close attention to everything. You need to find out what kind of security system they have, and the layout of the house. Try to find out their habits, when they go to work and what they do in the evening. You'll come back here and fill me in on the details. Then one night when they're gone we'll pay them a little visit, and relieve them of some of their stuff. You understanding me, boy? You're not too stupid to figure out what I'm telling you, are you?"


"Good. Then get up and make the call." He handed the card back to Ryan.

"I mean, no, I'm not going to do it."

"Excuse me? Did I hear you right? Did you just tell me no? You know better than that, right?" There was no mistaking the veiled threat.

Ryan held firm. "No, Art. I'm serious. I'm not going to do it. Shoplifting, stealing wallets and purses, even hot wiring a car, I'll do any of those that you tell me to do, but I'm not going to break into someone's house. I won't do it. What if I get caught? The guy's a lawyer. He probably has a ton of friends that are cops or worse, judges. Forget it. I'm not going to prison for one of your schemes. It's not worth it. You aren't worth it." Ryan tried to rise, but was brought down by a vicious kick to his side.

"Ryan, Ryan, Ryan," Art sighed and shook his head. "You are never going to learn, are you? I own you, and you will do exactly what I tell you to do. As for as me not being able to make you, we'll just see about that. I believe he said to call if things got to be too much. Well now, things are just about to get too much for you."

Ryan pushed himself farther into the corner. He glanced around the room, looking for an escape route. It was no use; Art blocked the way. He was trapped. His eyes widened in fear as he watched Art remove his belt. He slowly wrapped it around his hand, leaving a three foot strap that ended in a large silver buckle.

Art was true to his word. His arm was just beginning to get tired when Ryan slipped into unconsciousness.