Sorry- I posted this once then realized I didn't make a few corrections post upload and had to re-do it!
A/N: So I have a lot of ideas for some pretty "major" stories floating around my head… Bumping into one another, but none of them are quite formulated enough for me to start posting… So in the meantime, more sick Ryan, partly cause yay Ryan/Cohen bonding and partly cause I felt like I could have done a better job with "Here for you" and because I just started re-watching season 1. So without further ado, my latest Ryan torture fic- Hope you enjoy…
Disclaimer: This is pure, unadulterated whump & fluff, no plot & no apologies.
P.S. This was originally intended to be a one shot but if it seems like people are enjoying reading this... Then I might keep going ; )
Disclaimer 2: In case anyone was unaware or was debating suing me: I don't own the O.C., or its characters, never have. I might own the DVD box set...
He couldn't sleep. The air in the room felt heavy and oppressive. Despite the large windows that looked out on to the infinity pool and then out towards the ocean, Ryan felt like the walls of the airy pool house were closing in on him. Maybe it was just the headache. It had started the night before during dinner, gradually working it's way from the base of his skull and then reaching towards his temples with minor achy tremors. It had been enough for him to cut short the video game playing with Seth and head to bed early.
He slowly sat up, swallowing a few times to try and get rid of a slight itchy feeling at the back of his throat, and was surprised when even the slight movement seemed to make the pain worse and the tremors seem to reverberate deeper in his skull. He hadn't wanted to ask Kirsten for anything. Just because Dawn had declared that Kirsten was his mother now, didn't make it true. I mean, sure that's what the fancy legal documents said, and it wasn't that Ryan wasn't grateful. No, that was just it. He was grateful. So grateful, which was why he didn't want to bother her about anything, not even a request for Advil.
He wanted to prove that he wasn't a burden or a problem, and he felt like even though Sandy and Kirsten had decided to become his legal guardians he still had a long way to go before he proved himself worthy of being a part of the family, and he wasn't off to the best start. He still couldn't believe that after everything… The fights… The fire… Dawn… It still amazed him that they were still willing to take him in, willing to give him a home, willing to accept him baggage and all. That wasn't the way Atwood luck went. Atwood's don't get third chances, heck Atwood's don't even get second. When you're Atwood, you don't get "lucky." But that's what he was he realized, as he got to the feet and walked out into the quiet night air… Lucky.
He took a few deep breaths, trying to clear his head from the fuzzy pounding. It seemed to help a little. He debated venturing into the kitchen to try and find some Advil, but the clock next to his bed had informed him that it was two in the morning, and he didn't want to risk disturbing the Cohen's while they slept. He took a few more deep breaths, then went back into his pool house. Silently regarding the still and dark main house where his new family slept.
That house, it was filled with people, and stuff, a lifetime's worth of stuff and things, carefully and artfully arranged. It wasn't the kind of life that you could pack up and throw in the back of a U-Haul, and disappear into the night…Or day, if no one was watching or caring. That thought left him feeling comforted, but he still felt tense and apprehensive. A feeling prickled along his neck like something just had to go wrong. "Maybe it's the headache…" He tried to tell himself, but suddenly the slight tickle in his throat decided to make itself known, and he coughed. "Oh God- please don't let me be getting sick!" He sent up a silent prayer to whoever might be listening. Someone had been listening recently, he felt sure, how else had his life turned around so dramatically? He decided he was just being silly, phantasmal- sickness. He was so sure that something was going to happen that he was making something happen. This was all in his mind. Everything bad that was going to happen, had happened. From here on out, things were going to be good. He set his mind firmly on that resolution as he climbed back into bed, determined to ignore the headache, and the second round of coughing.
He can't sleep. It's nearly 6am. Every time he coughs, it makes his head hurt. Okay. That's enough of that he decides. Lying here isn't helping him feel any better. He sits up, rubbing his temples slightly, willing the headache to recede slightly, and climbs out of bed. Maybe he should go for a run, clear his head and his lungs. He gets up and pulls on a pair of shorts and a wife beater. His sneakers are old, but they'll do. He pulls them on, and sneezes as he straightens back up.
As he steps out into the early morning air, he realizes it's misting slightly. Not raining, more like a light ocean spray. He glances at the sky, its still a smoky gray color, the sun hasn't been up very long. His sets off down the driveway and up the road. The mist hardly bothers him, as he starts to move, his body slowly warming. He coughs twice more, but then the cough is gone, but the headache isn't. It takes up throbbing with his footsteps, and his legs soon start to ache. Much sooner than they should. His body doesn't feel right. Probably the lack of sleep he decides. His watch tells him that he's only been running for about fifteen minutes. Well, the run home will be another fifteen. He glances at the sky, it's grown darker, not lighter, and an ominous thunder rolls across the sky. He turns and starts to run home, but he's interrupted by a coughing fit, followed by a wave of dizziness.
He forces his feet onward, each foot step bringing him closer to being back with the Cohen's. He's tired by now, he'll be able to go to sleep just fine now. The thought of a warm bed hurries him onward. Then he looks around. His heart thuds against his chest as he realizes he isn't sure where he is. He must have taken a wrong turn. Thunder booms over his head again, louder this time, closer, but the misting has stopped at least. He turns around, his footsteps have slowed. He retraces his steps. He feels a fat drop of rain hit his shoulder, and forces his legs to move faster.
Kirsten is staring out the window, watching the rain pound against the window. It's not even 7am but the thunder woke her up and she went downstairs for her morning cup of coffee. She jumps slightly with surprise when she hears the front door open. Ryan comes in, looking like he decided to take a morning shower in the rain.
"H-Hey Kirsten," He says, as soon as gets inside the warm house he starts to shiver slightly.
"Ryan! What were you doing out there?" She asks, staring at him aghast at would could have possibly come over the teen.
"I c-couldn't s-sleep. Went for a r-run." The shivering gets worse.
"Hold on, let me get you a towel," She says, and darts up the stairs to the linen closet, where she grabs the biggest fluffiest towel she can find, and brings it down to Ryan.
"T-Thanks…" His teeth are still chattering as he wraps the towel around himself. "I'm going to t-take a hot shower," He clenches his teeth to try and stop the obvious shaking, and makes his way past her, heat rising to his cheeks with embarrassment. Worried he's going to drip on her expensive rugs, he hurries through the kitchen and out towards the pool house. Unsure what to do or say, Kirsten just lets him go. His cheeks are flushed red with embarrassment.
In the safety of the pool house he quickly jumps into the shower and cranks up the heat. He sneezes twice as the hot water splashes down on him, but the chill seems to subside from his bones. The water goes from hot to luke- warm all too quickly though, as the other members of the Cohen household take their morning showers, so Ryan's forced to hop out before he's ready, but he decides it's for the best. Standing there, he was starting to get a little dizzy… Climbing out of the shower, he sneezes several times in quick succession. His throat is starting to hurt too. Maybe the run hadn't been such a good idea… Ryan thinks as he starts to get dressed, pulling on two t-shirts and his hoodie. The cold seems to be back, he's freezing again. Coffee. He needs coffee.
A quick sprint through the rain and his back in the Cohen kitchen again. He's relieved that no one's around, because his lungs ache and he can't help coughing. He sniffs. His nose is stuffed up now and his head feels like it might have swollen slightly. Swallowing hard, and hoping to surpress any further involuntary signs of sickness, he shuffles to the coffee maker and pours himself a cup. Then he brings it to the counter and sits down, holding the cup tightly in his hands, trying to absorb the warmth. He takes a few sips, but his stomach really isn't interested in having anything in it, so he gives up and settles for just enjoying the cup's warmth.
"Feeling better now?" Kirsten comes back into the kitchen.
"Yeah," He's surprised by the hoarseness in his voice, and clears his throat, "Thanks for the towel."
Kirsten smiles, "No problem- Do you want some breakfast?"
"No thanks," Ryan shakes his head, then regrets the movement, "I… I might go back to bed."
Kirsten glances at the clock, "Yeah, Seth probably won't be up for at least four more hours."
"Do you…" He feels his cheeks burn slightly with embarrassment, "Have any Advil?"
"What's wrong?" Kirsten's suddenly on full alert. "Are you not feeling well?"
"No… It's just a little headache."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah…." Ryan says, his voice sounds hoarse again.
"Alright…" Kirsten reluctantly gives in, and gets him the Advil, placing two tabs on the counter, and gets him a glass of water.
"Thanks," Ryan says, gratefully, and trying not to wince as he swallows the pills and the water. Hopefully that will take care of most of the aches and pains, at least long enough for him to get a little rest. Then he makes a swift exit and heads back towards the pool house.
When Sandy comes downstairs he finds Kirsten standing by the door, staring over the pool house. "Hey Kirsten, what's wrong?" He knows that look.
"I don't know…." She says, "But I'm worried about Ryan,"
"He went for a run in the rain this morning, and he was just in here, and he didn't look so good. I think he might be feeling a little ill."
Sandy looked thoughtfully out towards the pool house, "Ryan's used to taking care of himself, so I don't think he'd appreciate if you want charging out there."
"I know… That's why I haven't." Kirsten said with a sigh, "But I'm his mother now… I'm supposed to take care of him."
"Look, if Ryan really needs you I'm sure he'll come to you."
"Really? I'm not so sure…" Kirsten said, "Do you think I could go out there and at least take his temperature?"
"No." Sandy said firmly. "If he's sick, he's probably sleeping anyway. Let him rest."
"Okay…" Kirsten said, with a long sigh, as she fought against her motherly instincts.
Ryan lay on his bed, curled in the fetal position, as the sneezing that had turned into a coughing fit finally subsided. He moaned, the Advil had taken some of the edge of his headache, but it was still there, and it throbbed with even the slightest movement, and the coughing fit made it pulsate painfully. Every muscle in his body seemed to ache, particularly his shoulders and neck, so it was with great effort that he managed to flip the pillow so the cool side lay against his hot face. His plan to go back to sleep had failed miserably. He almost wished he had told Kirsten he wasn't feeling well, even though he wasn't sure exactly what that would accomplish, but somehow, it felt like she always had the answers. Like she could fix any situation. He couldn't remember anyone ever really taking care of him when he was sick.
Dawn would just run a hand over his forehead, drop a bottle of cough syrup or Pepto Bismol by his bed, and then go on with her life. Boyfriends had even less interest in a snotty sick kid, but he knew from watching television commercials what it might be liked, but still that was TV, and he wasn't sure what reality really had. Once he had a mild stomach bug while at Theresa's, and her mom had rubbed his back as he leaned over the toilet and then brought him saltines and ginger ale while he lay on the couch, and waited for his mom to come, while he prayed that she would never come, and he could stay there forever.
He debated going and finding Kirsten, but just the thought of moving made his head spin, and he really didn't want to bother her. She was probably leaving for work soon, or an exercise class, or a charity committee. No, he wasn't here to bother the Cohen's. He sighed, and then regretted it as he started to cough again.
"Alright, I'm off," Sandy said, gathering up his brief case and heading out the door. "Are you?" He arched a bushy eyebrow.
"I'm going to stick around the house this morning…"
"Still worried about Ryan?"
"Yeah…" Kirsten confessed.
"Well, maybe you should just go out there."
"I thought you said..?"
Sandy shrugged, "Yeah, but, if you're just going to stand here and worry about him…"
"True… I'll bring him some tea!" She said, pleased to have come up with an excuse to go and visit Ryan.
When the tea was ready, complete with honey and lemon, she went out to the pool house and knocked softly. "Ryan?" No response. She knocked again, "Ryan?" She waited another moment.
"Kirsten?" A crackly voice responded.
"Can I come in?"
"S-Sure," Was the very unsure response. She opened the door, Ryan was sitting up, but his shoulders were. In the sunshine coming in the windows he looked rather pale, except his cheeks which looked slightly flushed. His eyes, usually bright and alert, looked a little glassy.
"I brought you some tea, I thought it might help your headache."
"Tea?" Ryan asked uncertainly. Kirsten almost winced when she heard how hoarse he sounded, he seemed to notice, because he tried to quietly clear his throat.
"It has a little caffeine, it always works for migraines…" When she said it out loud, Kirsten realized what a flimsy excuse it really was. Ryan probably did not have a migraine.
"Thanks…" He said, as he took the warm cup from her, and took a small, polite sip and then set it down.
"Do you uh… Need anything else?"
Ryan's cheeks turned even darker red, "No, I'm fine."
"How's your headache?"
"Almost gone," He was lying they both knew it. For a moment they caught one another's eye. Kirsten could practically see him wavering, those dark blue eyes assessing her, deciding whether or not he should say anything, and then his body decided for him. He sneezed, twice, then coughed. More than twice. The coughing sounded painful, and Kirsten sat down on the bed next to him, and rubbed his back as the coughing fit subsided.
"Ryan, are you feeling alright?" Sitting next to him, she could practically feel the heat radiating off his body.
Slowly he shook his head, "No…" He whispered. The word was like magical permission for Kirsten to begin her motherly administrations, and first things first, she placed a cool hand against Ryan's forehead. She didn't dare kiss it though, as she might have with Seth, besides she didn't need to. The fever was obvious. "Shouldn't have gone for a run," He said, the hoarseness in his voice had come back. "I got lost… And it started to rain… I don't want… I don't want to be a bother…"
"Oh Ryan… You're not a bother… You're my son. If you're sick, I want to take care of you!" She said. She grabbed a pillow that was next to Ryan, fluffed it, and put it behind him, so he didn't have to sit so upright. He lay back against it. "If you're coughing, it's better if you don't lie down all the way, that will make it worse." She explained. "I'll be right back, okay?" She patted his hand. "Drink the tea, it'll help your throat."
"So it's not for my headache?"
Kirsten smiled, "No… It wasn't a very good excuse, was it?" She admitted.
"No... But... I'm glad you came…" Ryan said, his body finally relaxing slightly and his eyes starting to close. Kirsten couldn't resist, she leaned over and gave her new son's forehead a gentle kiss.