1Title: Moms and Dads
Disclaimers: I own nothing in relation to The O.C. All mistakes are mine.
Summary: Approximately a million years ago Yessi 5 posted a plotbunny challenge asking for a story where Little Sophie asks Ryan why he doesn't call their parents "Mom" and "Dad" like she and Seth do. Some truly talented and gifted writers have already written their versions of this story. In order, to avoid comparison, I made Sophie a little older in this story. She's ten and you need to imagine her looking like Kirsten, but with a personality more like Sandy and Seth.
Moms and Dads
"Ryan!" Ten year old Sophie Cohen cried out and ran to her big brother. He picked her up and swung her around the room.
"Hey, munchkin. You being good?"
"Always," she said with a smirk that led him to believe otherwise. After he let go of her, she quickly pushed him to the side. "Is Taylor with you? Did you bring the baby?"
"You know," Ryan began, trying to look offended. "I can remember a time when you used to be happy to see me."
"That was before you made me the aunt of the cutest baby boy in the whole world."
"What are you going to say if Seth and Summer have a boy?"
"I don't have to worry about that. It's a girl. They found out yesterday."
"What?" Ryan was clearly shocked. "I can't believe they didn't call me."
"Oh, crap!" She hit herself in the head. "I wasn't supposed to tell you. Seth wants to be the one to spread the news. I'm not even supposed to know yet. I kind of accidentally overheard him telling Mom and Dad on the phone last night."
"I'm sure it was an accident," Ryan replied sarcastically. "Where are they, by the way?" He looked around for Sandy and Kirsten.
"Dad's got his night class tonight, and Mom's in the other room on the phone trying to con people out of their money to support her art gallery."
"She does not con people."
"She does too." Sophie attempted to defend herself. "She lays on the charm and they melt. She's not as good as Aunt Julie, though. When Mom has her help with the fundraisers, those old guys are putty in her hands. She smiles at them, rubs their arms, and when she talks to them, she always stands real close. By the time she's done schmoozing them, they don't know what's hit them. They practically hand her their wallets. She's awesome. I hope I can be as smooth as her someday."
"God help us all." Ryan's mutter was tinged with fear.
"If that's not conning them, I don't know what is. What do you think I should call it?"
Ryan sighed. "Oh, I don't know, how about soliciting funds?"
"Now you're making them sound like hookers. But you know... come to think of it, I did see Aunt Julie touch a guy's butt one time."
"What?!" Ryan attempted to give her a harsh look. "Oh, all right, I'm sorry. You're not going to tell on me, are you? About the hooker comment and the butt touching or even about the eavesdropping? Please?"
"I should," he threatened, trying to look stern, but failing. He broke into an exasperated grin. "Don't worry. You know I'd never tell on you."
"Thanks, Ryan." She gave him a hug. "Did I ever tell you that you're my favorite big brother?"
"That would mean a whole lot more if I hadn't heard you say the very same thing to Seth the last time he was home."
"Yeah, but I mean it when I say it to you." She looked up at him innocently.
"Of course you do." He laughed and ruffled her hair.
She pulled him by one arm to the couch. "Come on, sit down and tell me some cute Colin stories. I know you've got to have at least a dozen of them since last week. How come you named him that again? It's kind of a sissy name."
"It is not." Ryan tried to glare at his baby sister. "And anyway, I didn't name him, Taylor did. She said the next time I was in labor for sixteen hours I can pick the name, but until then, it's her choice."
"She does have a point."
"Yeah, I thought so, too. Now," he said slyly, "have I mentioned he said his first word Tuesday?"
Sophie clapped her hands in excitement. "Yay! Was it Sophie? I worked really hard to get him to say it on Sunday when you were over for dinner."
"No, it wasn't Sophie. It was Da-Da." Ryan beamed with pride.
"Well, I guess, if it wasn't my name, I'm glad it was Da-Da." She paused for a second looking at him oddly.
"What is it, munch? You're never quiet for over five seconds. Maybe I should call the doctor or at least the people at the Guinness World Records."
"Ha-ha. Seth's right, you should never try to be funny. But I was wondering..."
"Why don't you ever call Dad that?"
"Because I'm almost thirty and it would be kind of weird and frankly, really creepy."
She punched him in the arm. "That's not what I meant and you know it."
"Ouch, that actually hurt." Ryan rubbed his arm.
"Is it my fault I inherited my big brother's mean left hook?"
"I should have never taught you how to hit."
"A girl has to know how to defend herself. You said so yourself. You told me you didn't want anyone to save me but me. Whatever that means." She rolled her eyes. "Now seriously, why do you call our parents Sandy and Kirsten instead of Mom and Dad?"
"Sophie, you're almost eleven. You know that I didn't always belong to this family."
"I know. I know. You were fifteen with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Your mom couldn't take care of you and Benji's dad was in prison. Then Sandy, the super-lawyer, swooped down and saved you from leading a life of crime and spending the rest of your formative years in Juvenile Hall."
"I was not headed towards a life of crime."
"That's not the way Seth tells it."
"Seth likes to turn everything into one of his comic book stories." Ryan looked at Sophie and asked in all seriousness. "So if you know all that, why do you?"
"Because Mom and Dad are your parents. I know they adopted you. The fall after you turned eighteen. When you finally moved back home after your nutso self-destructive phase was over. I still can't believe you used to cage-fight. I tried to watch it once on TV, and Mom caught me. Boy, was she mad! She blocked almost every channel after that."
Ryan stared at Sophie. He still couldn't get over some of things he let her get away with. Even Seth rarely mentioned those painful months after Marissa's death. "Let me guess, you know all about the cage-fighting and the adoption because of Seth's stories."
"You know, Sophie, you need to stop listening to Seth all the time. It isn't healthy."
"Are you kidding? I wouldn't know anything good about this family if it wasn't for him."
"Okay. Okay. I'll try, but no promises. Let's get back to what we were talking about. I know you think of them as your parents. I've heard you say it to people when you introduce them. It even said so on your wedding invitations. Ryan Atwood, son of Sandy and Kirsten Cohen. Do you want me to get out Mom's scrapbook to remind you?"
"I know what my wedding invitation looked like. Don't forget we listed Dawn and Frank, too."
"But you never call Frank Dad. You call him by his first name, just like you do our dad. And you never talk about Dawn. She didn't even come to the wedding."
Ryan looked away. "She was sick."
"I'm not a baby, Ryan. I know she's an alcoholic like Mom. I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but what's wrong with her? Why doesn't she just check herself into rehab like Mom did?
"How do you know all of this?" He put up his hand. "No, wait. Never mind. I already know."
"Well, why doesn't she? I bet Mom and Dad would pay for it."
"She has been to rehab, more than once. She's not as strong as Kirsten. She tries to get better. She just doesn't stay better."
"It's not your fault, munchkin. I learned to accept it a long time ago."
"Okay, but you still never answered why you call them Sandy and Kirsten instead of Mom and Dad."
Ryan looked at floor for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts.
"I'm waiting." Sophie said impatiently.
"Give me a minute." He thought for a moment longer, absently chewing on his lower lip.
"When I say mom and dad, what do you think of?"
"Durr..Mom and Dad."
"I mean, what do they look like? When the image of them flashes through your mind, what are they doing?"
"That's easy. Dad's laughing and Mom's smiling. You know, her special smile. The one she saves for when she's really proud of you."
"I know which one you mean," Ryan answered, thinking of all the times Kirsten had graced him with that very smile.
"Don't tell anyone, but I kind of think she looks like an angel when she smiles like that. You don't think that's stupid, do you Ryan?"
"No." He shook his head. "Honestly, I think that's what she looks like too."
"Good." Sophie grinned at him, looking relieved. "So what was your point in asking me that?"
"Well when I first came to live in Newport, when I thought of the words mom and dad, the last thing that came to my mind was people laughing and smiling."
"What did you think of?"
"Maybe we should talk about something else."
"No. I want to know. Please, Ryan." She pleaded.
"Okay. Well, the only thing the word dad ever meant to me back then was someone big and mean and drunk." And usually hitting. Ryan added in his mind. Sophie may think she was old enough to everything about his past, but Ryan knew there were some things she never needed to hear.
"Frank isn't like that now, is he? You don't think he's ever mean to Julie and Benji, do you?"
"No, I don't. I learned a long time ago that Julie Cooper will do anything to protect her kids. She would never let anyone hurt Benji. Besides, if Bullit ever even thought Frank might harm either one of them, he'd shoot him."
Sophie laughed. "Good point. Do you think Julie will ever choose between them? Frank and Bullit, I mean. I'm totally on team Bullit. He promised to help me talk Mom and Dad into letting me get a pony for my next birthday."
"I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you."
"Why not? Seth had a horse when he was my age."
"Captain Oats is a ten inch plastic horse. I really don't think you can compare the two."
"I have faith in the Bullit, and my ability to talk Dad into almost anything."
"That may be true, but you still have to get past The Kirsten, and we both know that's never going to happen."
Sophie crossed her arms and pouted. "You're such a party-pooper sometimes." Then she turned back to him and pointed at him accusingly. "Hey, you tried to change the subject again. We were talking about Dawn and Frank."
"I didn't change the subject. You were the one who started rambling about ponies, Seth Jr."
"You know I hate it when you call me that. Now, tell me what you used to think of when you heard the word mom."
"You know how Kirsten gets your lunch ready for you every morning before school, helps you with your homework, and makes sure you go to bed on time."
"My mom didn't do any of those things. A lot of days she didn't get out of bed herself. There was never enough to eat, and she didn't even know if I went to school or when I went to bed, and she didn't care."
"I'm not saying she didn't care about me or Trey. It's just that she couldn't take care of herself, let alone anyone else."
"And that's why she left you with Mom, Dad, and Seth?"
Sophie didn't say anything right away. Her forehead was scrunched and Ryan could tell she was thinking hard about what he had just told her.
"I get it," she finally said. "It makes more sense now. I'm not sure I'd want to call anyone mom or dad either if that's what I had to think about." Sophie jumped off the couch and headed towards the other room. "So, now that we've got that out of the way , do you want to play some video games with me?"
Just like Seth. She can never stay focused, he thought.
"Only if they don't involve Cinderella or The Little Mermaid."
"Oh, puh-lease. What do you think I am, five?"
"Sorry. I keep forgetting that you're a mature woman now."
"And don't forget it. I even have a boyfriend."
"Boyfriend? Who is he? What's his name?"
"Chill out, Ryan. His name's Trevor and it's not that big of a deal. It's not like I'm going to marry him or anything."
"Sure. I got it," Ryan said, while making a mental note to ask Sandy and Kirsten what they knew about this Trevor bozo.
"Good." She stopped in the doorway. "Now about that video game, I was thinking more along the lines of Grand Theft Auto. Seth says you totally suck at it, the game and real life."
"Sophie, don't say suck."
"Whatever! Come on, Mom's bound to get off the phone pretty soon, and then we won't have any fun. It'll be talk, talk, talk."
"Yes, that's totally different than what we've been doing."
Sophie ignored his last comment and kept walking, leading the way to the family room. Suddenly, she spun around. "Mom and Dad."
Ryan stopped short, almost running into her. "What?"
"Quick, who did you just think of?"
Ryan answered without hesitation. "Sandy and Kirsten."
Sophie smiled their mother's special smile at him and took his hand in hers and without knowing it, walked right by Kirsten. She was hiding behind a doorway, practicing her eavesdropping skills. As her eyes followed them into the other room, she couldn't help but smile...her special smile and she looked like an angel.