The characters are not mine. Just playing with them a bit. This is my first fic ever. Started this from a prompt I read on live journal a while back, where I often lurk and enjoy the wonderful offerings there. Figured what the hell. I've rated it T for now, for language but that might change in later chapters depending on where it takes me.

Summary: Ryan's dad shows up unexpectedly.

Author's notes: I didn't watch this show regularly, and I was too lazy to search out info for the canon background but, as i said, I have read a lot of O.C. fics and so some things may be unconsciously linked to those stories as opposed to what actually may have happened within the show. So let's just call it an AU where some things may fall in line and some of this stuff may just be pulled from my ass. My Frank is a much harder edged Frank than on the show and in my mind the Frank I'm writing is much more physically intimidating than Kevin Sorbo. I know he was Hercules but he looked pretty non-threatening to me. lol. This is un-beta'd, so all mistakes are my own and I freely admit to being punctuationally challenged. So apologies for that.

UPDATED NOTES (the line in bold above was also added): It has come to my attention that some readers may be looking forward to some Summer and Marissa in here. To be honest, I didn't really care for Marissa, so I don't really plan on her showing up much (she's mentioned in chapter six but only as a tool to make something work within the story) and if she does, she probably won't be portrayed in the most favorable of lights. So, sorry to any Marissa fans out there. She just was not my thing. As for Summer, she may turn up more, since she's Seth's girlfriend in here, but I might go light on her simply because I don't think I'd do the character justice. If I happen upon a scene where she fits well for me and the characterization comes easy, then, by all means, I'll throw her in there.

As for the timeline, it's pretty wonky. I'm mish-mashing all kinds of things in here that I feel seem to work within the context of my story. I'm sorry if it confuses the hell out of loyal viewers of the show. Just pretend that seasons one-four of the show were really one loooong season. Only missing a few events and people. Like Theresa. And Oliver. And Johnny. And Lindsay. And Volchok. And so on. If the story takes me down a path where a certain character or event works to my advantage then I'm using it. lol.


Chapter One

"You're a long way from home, boy."

The voice startling Ryan as his head whips around to face the source. His heart quickens as his eyes flicker across the pool house searching for a means of a quick escape, suddenly wishing he hadn't begged off of the charity dinner of the month. Putting on a suit and tie and mingling with the likes of Julie Cooper and Caleb Nichol seems a welcome alternative to this completely unwelcome turn of events. He glances at the clock, wondering how long the Cohens will feel obligated to stay. Part of him not wanting them to come home in case this turns ugly and another part of him praying that they do.

"Nice digs. Quite a step up from Fresno, eh?". He steps into the pool house.

Ryan tenses further as he tries to find his voice. "Dad..I...wh..what are you..when did you..."

Frank laughs, "Still have quite the way with words, huh? What? Aren't you happy to see me, boy?".

Ryan's breathing shallows as his father moves closer. "What are you doing here?".

"Came to see my boy, what else? Heard you were living the high life while me and your brother were rotting in jail", he says as he eyes the room briefly before turning a steely gaze to his son.

Ryan's stomach churns as he recognizes that look in his father's eyes. "Mom ditched me and was my first offense. I'm on probation", he blurts out trying to explain.

"And look at you now. Rubbing elbows with the likes of Caleb Nichol." He takes in Ryan's puzzled look and continues, "I've been keeping an eye on you".

"Why?", Ryan asks, wondering just how long his father's been out.

"I got a right to know what's going on with my boy, don't I? Fancy clothes. Fancy parties. Kickin' back in the lap of luxury without a care in the fucking world, while me and your brother are eating slop", he snarls.

"Look, I'm...I'm sorry that Trey got sent up. It makes me sick thinking about him in there but that was his doing. I...he had priors. There was no way around him doing time this time."

"You think he's getting what he deserves?", Frank says as his eyes narrow and he takes a step closer to Ryan.

"No. I didn't mean...", Ryan starts but is cut off by Frank.

"You think I got what I deserved?! You think all of this is what you deserve?", he sneers as he waves a hand at the surroundings.

He and Trey did get what they deserved. They made their choices and had to deal with the consequences but Ryan wasn't an idiot, so he didn't point that out. Instead he just says, "No. I...I know I don't deserve it".

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the occupants of the pool house, the Cohens had returned home to hear a loud voice carry across the patio and down the driveway. They recognize Ryan's voice as they quietly approached to find out who his visitor was. Everyone they knew was at the fund raiser and the raised angry voice certainly wasn't one any of them recognized. Having only caught the latter part of this exchange, they still didn't know exactly who this man was.

Kirsten's heart clenched at Ryan's words. Did he really still believe he doesn't deserve to be there or was he simply telling this man what he thought he needed to hear?

"You're damn right you don't deserve it", Frank says firmly. "Hell, it seems they don't think you do either or you wouldn't be hidden away in their fucking pool house like some hired help. I think I should take offense that they don't think my kid is good enough to live in their house".

Well, that answers that question, Kirsten thinks. Sandy pales at the revelation and Seth is nervously looking at his parents with a "well, what do we do?" look on his face. Unsure himself, Sandy makes a move towards the pool house just as Ryan starts to speak again.

"It's not like that, dad. I...Kirsten...this is where they let me sleep when I first showed up. They didn't know me. It was just supposed to be for the weekend. I was going right back home after but then when Mr. Cohen took me back mom was gone. The house was empty", Ryan tries to explain. "After that, they were going to take me to child services but...but then I ended up staying".

After a beat, Frank asks, "if it ain't temporary no more why you still out here instead of in there?".

Ryan didn't have an answer really. The Cohens hadn't asked him to move inside once Kirsten agreed to let him stay and he was comfortable enough there so he didn't really think anything of it. They were just letting him live there, giving him a chance at a decent life. He couldn't ask for more than that.

Frank scoffs, "That's what I thought", taking Ryan's silence as confirmation. "You can pretend all you want but you don't belong here. They know it and you know it. You're just some mangy stray they brought home, stuck out here because you ain't housebroken yet".

"Ryan...", Sandy had heard enough. "We're home", he says from the doorway.

Ryan's gaze jumps to Sandy and then back to his father who turns to face Sandy.

"Frank Atwood, I presume", Sandy says.

Seth and Kirsten are hovering outside on the patio. Kirsten with her hand in her purse fingering her cell phone and Seth nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot as he takes in Ryan's stance. He's tense, with one arm hanging at his side. His hand unconsciously pulling and twisting at the seam in his jeans, upper arm tightly gripped by his other hand as it kneads and pulls at his skin. His eyes glued to his father as Sandy steps further into the room. The scene seems so wrong to Seth. He's the one that nervously fidgets, not Ryan. His gaze shifts to Frank and sees his cold stare fixed upon his father and hears the words they all heard Frank saying to Ryan echoing in his head and he frowns. This is Ryan's dad. He tries to imagine being a child having to look up at that man towering above him and his gaze reverts back to Ryan, who suddenly looks very young and unusually vulnerable.

"You presume correct", Frank mockingly states. "I'm talkin' to my kid. Do you mind?", he snarls at Sandy.

Sandy ignores the question. "Ryan? Why don't you go inside with Seth while I talk to your dad."

Ryan's eyes dart between Sandy and his dad, unsure of what to do. He wants to get the hell out of there but is afraid of what will happen between the two if he does. Sandy doesn't know his dad. He doesn't know what he's capable of. Franks voice breaks through his thoughts.

"Ryan's not going anywhere. We got some catching up to do", Frank says as he turns back to Ryan. "Don't we, boy?"

Ryan opens his mouth to respond but is cut off by Sandy. "Ryan's going inside. You can catch up later". He pointedly looks at Ryan and nods in the direction of the house. Ryan swallows then licks his lips as he slowly starts to move past Frank, who reaches out and grabs his arm. "I said Ryan's not going anywhere".

Much to Sandy's dismay, Kirsten steps in and calmly tries to diffuse the situation before it escalates. "I'm Kirsten", she states as she extends her hand.

"Frank", he offers as he takes her hand and eyes her suspiciously.

"We don't mean any disrespect, Frank. Your unexpected visit has just caught us all by surprise at this late hour and we'd like a chance to talk to you privately regarding the circumstance of Ryan coming to stay with us. Why don't you come inside and I'll make some coffee. We'll catch you up on what Ryan's been up to while Seth fills him in on our evening."

Taking in her perfectly put together appearance and casting an eye over her expensive jewelry he makes a decision. It might not be a bad idea to have a little look around the castle. With a tight smile, Frank releases Ryan's arm with a nod. Sandy leads Frank out onto the patio and into the house as Kirsten steps towards Ryan and gently touches his shoulder. She gives him a smile and says, "You stay here with Seth while we talk with your dad. Ok?"

As she turns to leave Ryan calls out, "Kirsten?". She turns back and sees the fear in his eyes. Fear for himself now replaced with fear for them. "I don't think..."

Kirsten steps towards Ryan again and gently places her hand on his cheek, "It's ok, Ryan. Sandy can take care of himself and he won't let anything happen to me. All right?". Ryan sighs. "It's just that my dad...he...", he trails off as he struggles to find the words, still reeling from the fact that not only is his father out of jail but right here Newport. "You should make him go as soon as possible. And don't get too close to him." he finally forces out, looking her straight in the eye. She nods in understanding and once again turns to leave.

The second the pool house door closes behind her, Seth lets out a huge "Dude" and flops down on the bed. "And I thought that my night was made of misery. I was seriously about to pee myself there for a second". He props himself up on his elbows asking, "are you okay?, as Ryan stared out the window watching the movement inside the kitchen.

"Ryan?", Seth prompts.

"What?", Ryan asks distractedly.

"Are you okay?"

"Huh? Oh. Yeah. I'm okay", he says with another sigh. He turns to look at Seth and says, "It's just that he's the last person I expected to see turn up here, you know?". He shakes his head still not quite believing that his dad is now in the Cohens' kitchen. Having coffee no less. The last time he saw him was when he was being wrestled to the ground by three cops so they could get him handcuffed and then driving him away in a paddy wagon.

Seth sits up on the bed and starts bouncing up and down. "I get it. Worlds colliding and all that...Uh, no offense but your dad? a scary dude."

Ryan snorts and sits down next to him. "Tell me about it. When I turned around and saw him, I felt like I was 7 years old again and wanted to hide under my bed".

Seth nods. "Totally understandable. I wanted to run and get Captain Oats. Not that I think turning to Captain Oats is childish, mind you. No. It's nostalgic comfort, which is a completely legitimate grown up reason to hold onto my sole childhood friend, whom, I might say, may have been inanimate but totally a step up from an imaginary friend", Seth awkwardly rambles before falling silent. "You haven't seen him since you were, what, eight?", he gently probes.

Ryan runs a hand down his face and answers, "Yeah.". He's silent for a beat and then continues. "Mom moved us to Chino shortly after. She never mentioned him after that and whenever we'd ask about him she'd flip out. So we quit asking".

"Did you want to see him? Want him to come back?", Seth questions. Wondering why they'd ask about him. If it were him, he'd be glad he was gone.

Ryan gets up and walks to the window, looking into the kitchen again. "I don't know, Seth. I mean, he was my dad. The only one I ever had. It sucked a lot of the time but it's all I knew and I guess part of me did want him home again. Especially when Dawn started bringing home guys like AJ.". He shook his head and turned back to Seth. "I think I buried a lot of the bad shit and convinced myself that things weren't as bad when dad was around. Truth is, mom was always attracted to the same kind of guys. Dad, AJ, or whoever. Same guy, just a different face and name."

Seth rises and walks over to Ryan, not quite knowing what to say. He follows Ryan's gaze to the Cohen household's central hub, currently housing his parents and the anti-Sandy. Standing side by side, both lost in their own thoughts until they eventually converge into one. This can't end well.