Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of The OC. They all belong to Josh Schwartz.
A/N: This takes place post-Oliver, Ryan and Marissa did not get back together, and Seth did not run off to Portland. This story is AU and I've taken liberties with some of the characters including Theresa and Kirsten. Be easy on me, this is my first story.
Just a sidenote: I'm not following the way the Ryan/Theresa relationship was portrayed on the show after he moved back to Chino. In my story, Ryan truly loves Theresa, and even though he may not be ready for fatherhood, he genuinely wants to do what's right and take responsibility. Having such selfless convictions is one of the traits I admired so much about the character, especially in one so young.
Ryan takes a left turn onto Central Avenue and approaches CIM, the California Institute for Men. He remembers it wasn't long ago when he drove here with Marissa, a couple of comic books and a store-bought pumpkin pie. Ryan drives around and parks at Facility D, a level one facility that houses medium to minimun security level inmates. He's thankful he can visit Trey in person and not have to converse through a telephone receiver separated by a cold, glass window.
"Hey," Ryan says quietly as he walks over to his brother.
"Ryan! Hey, it's good to see you!" Trey walks over and gives Ryan a warm, brotherly hug. "What brings you out this way? I'll admit, I was a little surprised you wanted to see me, especially with everything that happened with our last visit." Trey sits down at the table and gestures for Ryan to do the same.
"Yeah, well some things have happened since then," Ryan replies as he sits down across from his brother.
"Well, kid, you're looking good... except for that bruise under your eye. Have you been beating up those water polo players back in Newport? If so, you should be commended for doing the community a great service." Trey's attempt at humor elicits a small grin from his brother, but he can tell something is weighing heavy on the kid's mind. "Talk to me, Ry. Who hurt you? I've got some connections, you know. No one's gonna mess with my little brother."
"Eddie gave me the black eye," Ryan acknowledges as he shifts uncomfortably in the chair.
"Eddie? Tall, dark hair, mustache, goatee... my friend, Eddie?" Trey asks.
"Yeah, guess he's not happy that Theresa and I are back together."
"Last I heard, Eddie and Theresa were engaged to be married," Trey states. "What the hell happened?"
"Eddie's been abusing Theresa, that's what happened," Ryan explains to justify their break-up.
"No way, Ryan! Eddie would never hurt Theresa!" Trey can't believe what he's hearing. He's locked up for a few months and all hell breaks loose in Chino.
"I've seen the bruises on her, Trey. He's been hurting her."
"Eddie would just as soon ram his bare fist into a brick wall than hit a woman," Trey explains.
"Well, guess he's all out of brick walls," Ryan replies, frustrated that his brother is so quick to jump to Eddie's defense.
Trey senses his brother's agitation and decides to switch gears. "Alright kid, enough about Eddie. He's not important. You, on the other hand, are important. What's going on? You said you're back with Theresa? What's up with that? I thought you were dating that chick from Newport... you know, the one you were with when you came here last Thanksgiving."
"Yeah, Marissa. What happened?" Trey asks.
"We broke up."
"I know you broke up. But, what happened?" Trey asks, becoming exasperated with the effort it takes to get his brother to talk.
"It's a long story. I don't want to talk about it."
"I got time, kid. I'm not going anywhere," Trey says as he lights up a cigarette and studies his brother intently.
Ryan looks down at the scratched, worn table, trying to think of what he should say. The only person he's really talked to about the "Oliver Trask fall out" has been Theresa.
"It's just that I thought Marissa and I had trust between us... I thought we had something special," Ryan says quietly, thinking back to New Year's Eve when he opened his heart up and told Marissa he loved her. "But, she chose to trust someone else instead of me... and it really hurt, you know?" Ryan looks up at his brother. "If you don't have trust, then you have nothing."
Trey looks into his brother's eyes and sees the hurt... the pain. And, he wishes he could take all of it away. "Well, you can trust me, Ryan. I know I screwed up big time and almost took you down with me, and kid, believe me... I'm so very sorry for that. But, I want you to know you can always count on me. You're my brother and I love you."
Ryan smiles. He knows Trey has always tried his best, and that's what's mattered most to him. He would trade in all of his mother's empty promises, all the "I love you's" from so-called girlfriends, and all the "charity" from well-meaning families for his deeply flawed, but well-intentioned brother. At least he would know what was real. He would have someone he could always count on.
"So, what's going on with you and Theresa?" Trey asks.
Ryan bums a cigarette off his brother and joins him for a much needed smoke. "Trey, you're going to be an uncle."
"I'm going to be an unc... say what, Ryan?" Trey inquires, his attention now completely focused on his brother. "Did I just hear you say I'm going to be an uncle?"
Ryan nods his head in agreement and slouches back in his chair.
"Damn, Ryan, what happened? Well, I know what happened but, how the hell did you let this happen? Didn't I teach you anything?" Trey asks, confused by his brother's admission.
"Gee, I don't know Trey. It just happened," Ryan replies with a slight edge to his voice.
"So what, you're telling me you got Theresa Diaz pregnant? You knocked up my best friend's sister?" Trey places his hands over his face and groans. "Man, you are so lucky Arturo likes you. Otherwise, you'd be in deep shit."
Trey notices his brother tense up. "Hey kid, it's alright. It's just that I'm a little surprised, that's all. I thought I had taught you about, you know, safe sex and all. I'm your big brother. It's my job to make sure you stay safe."
Trey remembers back when his baby brother hit puberty. He would take Ryan to parties with him, not to corrupt the kid in any way, but because he knew Ryan couldn't go home if their mother had her typical lowlife boyfriend over for the night. The girls adored the kid and swarmed him like moths to a light on a warm summer's night. That's when Trey handed his brother condoms and told him to always use them, no matter what.
"I know, Trey. And, you did," Ryan acknowledges.
"So, talk to me. Why did you screw up with Theresa? You're the smart one, Ryan... the responsible one."
"I was responsible, Trey. I used a condom..." Ryan hesitates. He's always been uncomfortable talking about sex, even with his brother. It's just too personal.
"Okay, so if you used a condom, why do you think you're the father?" Trey asks.
"Because Theresa told me it broke," Ryan answers with his head lowered, not wanting to look his brother in the eye.
"Wait, Theresa told you it broke?" Trey questions.
"Yeah, I remember she was very 'hands on' that day," Ryan recalls, slightly embarrassed.
"Did you see this so-called broken condom?" Trey asks as he begins to feel uneasy about his brother's predicament.
"No, she took care of it... flushed it, I think." Ryan sits up straight and looks at his brother. "But what does that matter? All that matters is that I'm going to be a father. I can't let Theresa do this all by herself. I'm trying to do the best I can."
"I know you are, Ryan. I know you're trying your best," Trey acknowledges. "It's just that... well... Theresa's always had a major thing for you, ya know? Plus, Arturo told me some things that happened with her after your little impromptu visit to her house last Thanksgiving."
"What happened with Theresa?" Ryan asks.
"Well, I guess she got really depressed, dropped out of school even. Then, out of the blue, she hooked up with Eddie. Arturo felt the only reason she started seeing Eddie was to try to get over you."
"Theresa told me she dropped out of school to work because her mom lost her job," Ryan explains.
"Well, Eva did get laid off, I remember. But I don't think she would have asked Theresa to drop out of school and get a job. As I recall, Eva has a sister in Atlanta. She would certainly help out if the family was in need. Plus, Arturo has a job. I can pretty much guarantee you he would not let his mother and sister go hungry."
Trey senses his brother retreating deep into thought as he watches Ryan absentmindedly play with the zipper of his hoodie. "But, Theresa was probably just uncomfortable telling you she was suffering from depression." Trey tries to make eye contact with his brother, but fails. "And you know, she probably did find work to help out Eva, especially if she didn't feel ready to go back to school."
"Yeah, I'm sure that was it," Ryan mumbles more to himself than to Trey. "I know she'd want to help out her mom."
"Speaking of moms, did you tell Dawn she's going to be a grandmother?" Trey asks.
"Mom? No, I haven't told her. I don't even know where she is," Ryan replies.
"Well, that's probably for the best. As a mother, she's a complete train wreck. I don't think she'd do much better as a grandmother," Trey states emphatically. "So, what's going on with that family you were living with in Newport?"
"The Cohen's? Theresa and I are going to stay with them for awhile. They feel we'll be safer living in Newport, away from Eddie." Ryan puts out his cigarette and starts tracing a crack in the table with his finger. "They seem to care, I think... I don't know..."
"Whoa, kid, talk to me. Are you doubting the Cohen's?" Trey asks.
"No, of course not. It's just that..." Ryan sighs. "It's complicated, Trey."
It's complicated. Trey know this is Ryan's way of saying he doesn't want to talk about something. He also senses his brother has reached his limit for talking for the day.
"I should head back and see if Theresa needs any help packing," Ryan states as he stands up from the table.
"I'm glad you came here today, Ryan. It really meant a lot to me," Trey says as he gives his brother another hug before he leaves. "Listen, call me if you ever want to talk. They allow me a whopping 15 minute phone call once a day."
"I will. I'll call you."
Trey smiles. "Everything's gonna be alright, Ryan. But, I want you to promise me one thing."
"Let the Cohen's help. From what you've told me, they seem like really good people." Trey looks directly at his brother. "You can trust them, kid. You don't have to do this all on your own."
"Okay," Ryan says with a warm smile. "Thanks, Trey."
Theresa sits on the edge of the bed, twirling the business card between her fingers. With Ryan visiting Trey, her mother running errands and Arturo at work, this is her one chance to call Caleb Nichol. Tonight, she'll be living at the Cohen's...in the poolhouse to be exact. At least this time the Cohen's should allow Ryan to stay with me, Theresa thinks to herself.
Theresa takes a deep breath and dials the number.
"Mr. Nichol. This is Theresa Diaz."
"I'm afraid you have the wrong number. I don't know any Theresa..."
"Ryan Atwood's girlfriend."
Caleb thinks for a moment and scoffs, not appreciating being interrupted. "Ah, yes, now I remember. You're the young lady that no-good street thug got pregnant." Caleb looks at his watch. "Miss Diaz, I'm a very busy man as I have an important presentation to prepare for this afternoon. I simply do not have time to chit chat..."
"I have a proposition for you."
"A proposition...for me," Caleb states, his curiosity piqued.
"I don't want to discuss it over the phone. There's a Denny's I used to work at off of 55 just outside of Newport. Meet me there tomorrow morning at nine."
Caleb remains annoyed but he also can't help but be impressed with the girl's boldness. "You will need to tell me a little more about this proposition first, Miss Diaz. I do not do anything unless there's something clearly in it for me."
"I'm well aware of that, Mr. Nichol. I'm also aware that you would like nothing more than for Ryan Atwood to be out of your daughter's life...out of your family's life."
"I'm listening." Caleb sits back in his chair, now thoroughly intrigued.
"Meet me tomorrow morning. I assure you, it will be well worth your time," Theresa firmly states as she feels her heart pounding through her chest.
Caleb thinks for a moment. "Tomorrow morning at nine, Denny's off of 55, just outside Newport. I'll be there, Miss Diaz. Please, do not disappoint me."
Theresa hangs up the phone, her palms slick with sweat. I can do this, she thinks to herself. With Caleb Nichol's help, she will have Ryan exactly where she wants him...with her, and with a little luck...far away from the Cohen's.