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The Power of Speech, chapter 5

Title: The Power of Speech
Rating: This chapter's a T but previous chapters are Ms.
Summary: An AU where Ryan's father wasn't arrested and continued to beat Dawn and the boys. Ryan meets the Cohens through a different way.

Chapter 5

Ryan was still walking as the sun began making its descent down the sky. He had no idea where he was or where he was headed. Trey had probably done that on purpose, so that if Ryan hadn’t gone with him, he’d be hopelessly lost. Well, the plan had worked and Ryan was hopelessly lost.

He just kept walking though, hoping that eventually he’d end up somewhere.

He felt completely lost, not just physically but emotionally as well.

He’d spent every day since Trey had left home, imagining his next encounter with his brother. Trey had almost seemed like an almost God like figure to him. He’d never considered the fact that Try could have changed, could have turned into someone not unlike their father.

There was no way he was going to have stolen that car, Trey should have known that.

Everything in the world just felt so insignificant.

All those stories that Trey used to tell him when he was scared with the two kings- Trey and Ryan… how could Trey have changed so much?

The beeping of a car horn brought his mind back to reality and he looked around, dazed. A car pulled up next to him and he saw Mark’s head popping out of the open window.

Mark was about to speak but he must have seen the traumatised expression on Ryan’s face.

“Okay Ryan, hop in. Let’s go home.”

Ryan opened the door slowly and lowered himself into the passenger seat of the car. Home? Home to him meant a beating before bed, a new scar to hide from prying eyes in the morning. Home to him meant spending every minute of every day, imagining scenarios that could never come true. He was most definitely not going home.


The car ride home was quiet. Ryan could see in the reflection on the window, Mark nervously shooting glances in his direction but he didn’t say anything. He was grateful for Mark’s seemed understanding that he didn’t want to talk.

As they pulled into the driveway, Ryan was all set to take off his seat belt and open his door, when he felt a restraining hand on his arm.

At first he felt afraid, was Mark going to punish him for being out so much later than he had planned.

He turned worriedly to face the man. It was funny; he’d been so used to not having any beatings that the thought of having to go through all of that again, made his stomach flip.

Mark again seemed to sense the uneasiness in his expression and quickly removed his hand.

“Hey, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. I just know that sometimes it can get a little hectic around the house and I wanted to have a little chat. Now seems like a good time, don’t you think?” He said trying to keep his tone jovial.

Ryan shrugged, still untrusting and gripping the door handle with his right hand to give himself support.

“I want to be straight with you Ryan,” he took a deep breath and Ryan tensed up even further.

“I got a call from the police station today, not that long before you left the house with your brother. Sergeant Jones was letting me know that a Mr Trey Atwood had been arrested for stealing someone else’s property. Seeing as you were the last person to be seen with him, the police would like to question you on your part on the matter.”

Ryan shook his head slightly. He should have known this was going to happen. Not only did Trey drag himself down but he’d managed to pull Ryan down as well.

“Now, they don’t think you had a part in the actually robbery, it was a car if you didn’t know. They would just like to know exactly what happened.” He waited for Ryan to say something but Ryan felt like he had nothing to say.

He felt like he was drowning in his family’s messes and whenever things seemed to look like he was finally on his own, something even worse would happen to drag him down. He didn’t think he could handle talking to a cop. His father had always made him afraid of police and the idea of talking to one, one on one, terrified him.

He’d always made sure to keep out of their way and yet his brother had managed not only to ruin his worked out plan for his future till he was eighteen but now because of him, Ryan was going to have to face one of his deepest fears.

“I’ll stay with you for the interview of course, don’t worry about that. You won’t be alone Ryan. Remember, you have Lucy and I now. You’re not on your own anymore.

Ryan felt a small weight being lifted off of his shoulders. He was so used to handling things on his own that he hadn’t considered the possibility that maybe Mark would sit with him during the interview.
Mark smacked a hand on his leg suddenly. “Right, how about we go in for some dinner. Did you have lunch? You must be starving.”

He bustled out of the car and Ryan followed, feeling like he was sleep walking.

He couldn’t help but wonder where he would be if he had followed Trey and gone into the car. He guessed he’d probably be in juvy and the thought made him shiver.


That night, Ryan tossed and turned in bed, tormented by memories of his mom, dad and brother. He kept seeing his dad, thrashing him with his belt until the image would morph into Trey.

He saw his mother’s body, lying in that closet. Her bluey grey skin tormented, and crawling with maggots. Then Trey would be behind him, pushing him into the cupboard and locking the door.

The image again morphed and he saw Mark and Lucy, smiling happily together, content. Then he saw Trey, a knife in his hand, approaching the two of them. He felt paralysed, he couldn’t stop him. They couldn’t hear Trey’s haunted laughter as he laughed at Ryan’s fear.

He woke up from his own screams but even though he knew he was disturbing everyone, he couldn’t make himself stop.

Even awake, he could still see his mother’s dead face. He could still hear Trey’s cackling laugh.

Hands were holding him down and he tried to wriggle free, he needed to be free. He was always being restrained and he couldn’t bare it anymore.

His throat was beginning to burn but he couldn’t stop his screams. He felt his stomach beginning to give at the sight of the dead body and he was horrified to feel tears trickling down his face.

He wanted to raise his hand to swat them away, but the hands were still restraining him.

“Ryan! Listen to me! You have got to calm down.” A voice floated into his subconscious. It was a voice of authority, a voice that commanded that it was to be listened to.

His screams soon turned to gagging as he saw his mom’s head suddenly turn to him.

He felt something being held in his lap but he couldn’t see anything. Everything was just images of his mother’s dead corpse.

He felt a gentle hand begin to move up and down his back. The hand made him feel weak and he began to feel his energy waning.

He flopped into the hands at his back. They were so comforting and gentle. He’d never felt anything so nice before.

“Open your eyes Ryan,” the voice was whispered into his ear. He was about to respond that they were open when he felt something cold press against his forehead. He began to notice that it really was too dark and that if someone was with him, it really should be lighter. He realised that maybe the voice was in fact right and his eyes weren’t open.

It took an effort for him to pull open his eye lids but when he did there was a comfortable glow around his bedroom.

He felt someone holding him, but for once the touch was so gentle that he didn’t want to pull away. There was a steel basket sitting on his lap and he pushed it away from him. He was surprised when someone came over and took it from him.

“Hey sweetie, you awake now?” It was a woman’s voice and for a millisecond, Ryan thought it could be his mom, but then the same image that had been following him around for the past few weeks returned. His mom was dead, properly dead. As in she couldn’t be holding him right this minute. He traced the voice back to Lucy.

She gently lifted him off of her lap and lay him down on the bed.

“There we are, are you feeling better now?” He gave a small nod and she gave him a small smile.

She pulled up the covers to his chin and smoothed out the wrinkles.

“Try and go back to sleep. That must have been one heck of a dream.” He heard a male voice and recognised it to belong to Mark.

“I’ve got the kids back to sleep.” He said quietly to Lucy and Ryan felt his face redden with humiliation for causing the house such a disturbance.

“We’ll see you in the morning Ryan,” She stroked back his sweaty bangs from his face and left the room.

Ryan didn’t go back to sleep, he didn’t want to disturb the household again. Something told him that if he tried to go back to sleep, the same thing would happen, and he’d piss Lucy and Mark off so much that they’d stop the kind act and beat him for waking everybody up.

He sat up and turned on the lamp by his bed. It was going to be a long night.


Okay, so I wrote this a while ago and I have a seemingly false memory of writing the Cohens into this chapter. I must have dreamt it… No wait I’m sure I wrote at least Sandy…

Now I am very confused!

Anyway, thank you for reading :)


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, an update! The description of Ryan's nightmare is really vivid!
I'm officially addicted to this story!
I'm wondering how and when Ryan's gonna meet the Cohen though...(yep, that was a *please update soon" sentence*)
Thanks for this update!
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
Thanks :)

I'm officially addicted to this story!

Aww I'm so glad.

I actually wrote the next chapter, which was my random memory but I accidentaly deleted it. However, I have plans for the next chapter.
Mar. 27th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
I am really enjoying this. I love the traumatized Ryan, you write him well. The flashbacks to his dead mom are chilling and wonderful. ♥
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
Thanks Brandy. I'm so glad that you're enjoying.

Mar. 27th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
Home? Home to him meant a beating before bed, a new scar to hide from prying eyes in the morning. Home to him meant spending every minute of every day, imagining scenarios that could never come true. He was most definitely not going home.

Man, we do love to torture the boy, don't we? I'm glad that he was awoken from the nightmare by loving people---though it almost sounded like the Cohens....maybe that's what triggered your false memory. Yes--we need to see Sandy and Kirsten soon.

Mar. 28th, 2008 11:50 am (UTC)
Man, we do love to torture the boy, don't we?

Haha oh yes we do.

I think what happened is, that I began the next chapter which had the bit I rememebr writing in it. But when I saw a document called chapter 6 the other day when I was clearing out some of my documents I thought it was something else and so deleted it *grumbles*

But yes, Sandy and Kirsten are coming.
Mar. 27th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Very good job with Mark and Lucy. They are very likable characters and seem to be genuinely concerned about our boy.

That nightmare...YIKES!...quite chilling.
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC)
People so often make out social workers to be bad people, so I decided to make them nice for a change. I thought Ryan needed someone to be nice to him. I'm glad you like them.

Mar. 27th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
Not sure that was the last thing to read before I turn off the light! Thanks for the update.
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)
:) Thanks.
Mar. 27th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
I was hoping we'd get more of this since you had left Ryan, courtesy of Trey, completely lost and alone. Although you didn't say as much here, I'm guessing that Ryan didn't get simply guess the right direction, but that Mark had been out looking for him, either after he'd been gone too long or immediately upon receiving the phone call. It's reassuring to know that both Mark and Lucy aren't only paid caregivers who view their jobs as a way to make money, but genuinely seem to be concerned about the kids, at least as much as time and circumstances allow.

You've cultivated some more connective and revealing interactions between Ryan and Mark, and Lucy as well here. Both of the adults have found their own way to communicate with Ryan without patronizing him and while doing their best to be as unthreatening as possible. Despite Ryan's aversion to physical contact, he even accepts some comfort from them, although he's much more wary of Mark when fully aware and awake than when he's far more compromised and vulnerable following the nightmares.

Again, in addition to these dynamics, you've incoporated some very visceral imagery. There's Ryan so empty, uncertain, and wandering aimlessly with no meaningful destination or purpose. There are his heartbreaking reflections on the negative connotations of "home" that are the opposite of the refuge Mark implies and most take for granted, and which indicate the depths of his trauma. There there are the haunting nightmares which combine some of his most painful experiences and horrific memories into one terrifying version of his life. Throughout, there are all the constant reminders of tenuous anything remotely stable is for Ryan. The only constants have been negative and Frank and Trey have succeeded in shattering any sense of trust Ryan might have had.

I'll confess I kept waiting for Sandy to make an appearance, but maybe he'll be popping up when Ryan has to face more about Trey with the police, which can only stir up more unsettling emotion for him all while being prodded not just to recall something upsetting, but to speak and to address authorities figures he's been taught to fear and mistrust. Ouch. I hope Mark does go with him- even that's any help.

Thanks for the update!
Mar. 28th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC)
As I said to Anne35, I really wanted Mark and Lucy to be nice characters because so often social workers are made out to be mean in stories. I'm glad people seem to like having nice social workers.

Well, you're close in how I bring Sandy in, but not quite :)

It might be a tad difficult to get him talking as well, since Ryan hasn't spoken at all since he was "rescued." This is where I bring in my non existant knowlege of these such matters!

Thanks for commenting :)
Mar. 28th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
Not all social workers have to be demonized. There have to be well-meaning ones, as well as those who even overcome the constraints of too little time, money, or support from within- at least on occasion. It's a very imperfect system and they'd be evidence of that. However, there have to be exceptions occasionally, right?

Sandy was badly written so often, especially during S2 and S3, but early in S1 he had his moments when he didn't preach at Ryan and actually watched- and "listened" to what Ryan didn't say verbally, but with body language, so there's always that!
Mar. 28th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Exactly my point. Which is why I made Mark and Lucy nice.

Oh God, I absolutely hated Sandy in season 3 and during the Rebecca or Rebekkah parts of season 2. However, he was so wonderful in season 1 that my love has stayed with him now that the worst bits are over. His speech in the "Man of the year" made me love him again. Although I was sad that Ryan missed it.
Mar. 28th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
I hear you on all counts. And, of course Ryan missed the speech. He was such an outsider/interloper by that point that I was really scared they were going to kill him after graduation. The Cohens barely acknowledged him and were polarized as a family with Ryan sort of like a boarder who had been living with them while attending Harbor, but whom they were shutting out even more since high school would be ending. And Ryan never was present when people, especially the Cohens, said the sorts of thing he needed to hear. When they rarely hinted at the sort of remark he needed to be told directly and consistently- as in with reinforcing- they did so to someone else. Awful!
Mar. 28th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
Just thought I'd pop by to say that I love this story, despite your twisted mind, Phil ;D and that I'm off to review it properly at fanfic.net :)
Mar. 28th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks Laura :)

What are you on now? I'm on 52. HAve I nearly caught you up? Or am I still about 10 behind!
Mar. 29th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
I think I'm on 57. And I have so many great ideas for multi chapter fics.. mwahaha.. but none of them are inspired by the prompts, so I can't use them! :(
Mar. 29th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Ooh I've nearly caught you up mwhahaha.

Aww well, I'm looking forward to them.
Mar. 28th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
Poor Ryan, oh how you make him suffer. Moore please? Hugs
Mar. 28th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) *hugs*

I do like to make him suffer but I don't do sad endings so Ryan always ends up happy at the end.

I'm off to write some now. I've had a sudden burst of inspiration.
Mar. 30th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy you are getting more inspiration. Hugs
Mar. 30th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Whew. The story ran out on fanfic so I ran back over here. Chapter four was a cliffhanger. Glad this chapter was posted.

Anyway, this is really, really good phil.

Like as in reall good story telling. The characters of Lucy and especially Mark and even the little girl are written with detail and "life." They aren't just moving the plot along. They are a part of the story.

In chapter four, when Trey called Ryan a mute and Ryan was confused, because he thought he had been talking...that was wonderful, because you managed to really let the reader know how screwed up this kid was, without hitting us over the head with the facts.

Can't wait to read the next chapter. Keep it up!
Apr. 1st, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
I really like Mark! He seems good for Ryan.
Jul. 2nd, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
next chapter?
are you going to continue this story? Pretty please... It is so good, I love it!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )